Jun 20

Pictures of small fossilized creatures

Here are more marine animals turned to stone by time. I picked these up off the shore of a lake and now that they’ve been documented here for no reason I will return them whence they came. It’s important that these things go back to the wild. They’re destined to roam free, stepped on and kicked and maybe picked up and marveled at by children of all ages.

And, also, to take up a good day’s worth of space here on this humble little website. And maybe on social media. There’s always a need for content over there.

Check out these articulations. I believe these, at least some of these anyway, are comatulida, which is an order of crinoids.

Those layers, I just learned, are called synostosis.

Even on the broken ones, I like the ridges. These things have so much character.

If you squinted just right, and I put some greenery and fake foliage on the paper I might be able to trick you into thinking these were castle towers or something. Maybe you’d think I got them from a train set.

Donut or Cheerio?

OK, that’s a Cheerio. This is definitely a donut.

So there’s three types of the common crinoid fossils things in my experience — and the third one is relatively new to me. There’s the one that’s got dirt or mud or fossilized sediment inside. The more desirable version are the ones that are still hollow, like our friends above which resemble tasty treats. Through that axial canal runs, which ran through all the stem segments of the living organism, you would find the nerves and the digestive system that sent nutrients along the body.

Most of these look like they might be cyclocyclicus or pentagonacyclicus, according to this 1968 study I’ve suddenly found myself reading. And the new type, to me, are the ones with the specific shapes through the columnal feature. Like these.

Let’s take a closer look. This one is a floricyclus.

I just found something called The Fossil Forum and two things are clear. The little samples I find are relatively modest and, second, I can’t be sucked in my something called The Fossile Forum.

That 1968 paper — Classification and nomenclature of fossil crinoids based on studies of dissociated parts of their columns by Raymond C. Moore and Russell M. Jeffords — has almost 30 pages full of photos. I don’t see this one there, and it’s not even especially rare.

I’ve seen it’s kind in similarly vague and casual photographs like this one before, so it’s nothing new.

Please remember, dear expert reader who finds this at some point in the future, this is obviously and quite clearly not my field. I’d love to be corrected, however, on any of these errors, big or small.

Jun 20

Got 20 minutes? There are two great videos below

I found some fossils down at the lake yesterday. We have to spread these things out for content just now, plus I’ve been playing around with a new light box setup at home. So yesterday’s crinoid samples would have to wait. They’ve been sitting around for a few hundred million years, so what’s a few more hours, really?

Anyway, I am trying to remember how to take pictures of small things.

They look like shriveled Cheerios, don’t they? Really crunchy cereal bites with ridges. Don’t eat these, they aren’t that tasty, and probably difficult to digest at this stage.

It’s amazing, really. I’m taking these pictures and I’ll put these back out by the lake or a creek or something and maybe one day someone else will see them.

Or maybe they’ll just wait for another few hundred million years until the insect citizens of Perpaplexiconia dig through a few more feet of soil and who knows what they’ll think of tiny fossils. Maybe they’ll eat stones for their digestive properties.

Stuff from Twitter, to pad this out.

This is sort of self-explanatory. But I always wonder how people select the takeover person, and what that negotiation is like. Do you have to leave your license and car keys behind or something? Now, a full on swap for a day or so would be enlightening. I think it might be better on Instagram than Twitter, actually.

George Taliaferro is one of those people that, the more you read about him, the more you want to know about him.

He led the Hoosiers to their only undefeated season, helped end segregation in Bloomington by a few different methods:

He became the first African-American drafted by the NFL, and spent a lifetime, I mean the rest of his life, lifting up others. I regret not having had the chance to meet him before he passed away. But there are plenty of great stories about him, I mean plenty, and football is merely the way you learn about an otherwise great man.

Midway through this piece Taliaferro talks about he and the university president managed to desegregate the businesses of Bloomington. It’s a little choppy, but it goes like this: There was a photo in a popular restaurant right across the street from campus that had a picture of a championship IU team on the wall. Taliaferro said to Herman Wells, my picture is on the wall, but I can’t eat there. And Wells said, we’ll just see about that. It’s a big little story about two amazing men.

They don’t make many like that anymore, and they never did make enough of them to begin with.

I have an idea about this, don’t:

Can you imagine? One day you’re going through life’s drudgeries, the next day you’re in a pandemic, and then suddenly you’ve lost your father and your step-mother and now you’re the caregiver to five children and a stroke victim.

Where a mask, wash your hands, give the people around you plenty of distance.

Jun 20


Here are some crinoids I picked up last weekend. I was wondering down by the creek bed enjoying myself quite nicely and it quickly became a scavenger hunt. Right there at my feet I found three of these at a glance. Why, then, I had to wonder around a bit to discover a few more.

Old seaborne fossils. Or, around these parts, definitely freshwater fossils. You can find them most anywhere that has water, seems like. Why do I still pick them up? Why do I bring them back to the house to take pictures of them?

These are, I believe, crotalocrinites. They are the sort I’ve always found. They are extinct now, but they appeared about 300 million years before the dinosaurs.

I’ve just discovered, online, there are star-shaped fossiles called pentacrinites. I want to find some of those.

Let’s jump in the time machine, though, and move up a few hundred million years. I pulled back the break lever just a bit too soon, however, and we’ve stopped 103 years before. It’s June 4, 1917. What’s going on in the world?

Oh. That. So the summer before there was a massive sabotage in New York. And two weeks after this Congress passed the Espionage Act, something Woodrow Wilson had been on them about for several years. I can’t find any details today about this person. So we’ll just have to be satisfied with these news briefs:

The next day you had to go sign up for the draft. Married men couldn’t duck it. You’ve already seen that peaceful registrations were predicted. And we now from earlier editions of the paper that several American men, even some locals, are going off to war in some capacity or another. Just down the page there’s a brief listing another handful of names. In New York, when the draft went into play, it was anything but peaceful. So, I’m sure, people were hoping for the best.

There are two creeks on either side of us that have these names.

And while people are out surveying damage, and you’re reading in another column the news that a former local who had moved to Illinois just had his house destroyed in the storms, you get this little ad:

A.H. Beldon had been a grocer. By the teens, he was doing insurance. He made it to 80 or 81 and died in 1939, the same year as his wife. Their son flew planes for the Army in World War I, in Texas, it looks like. That guy’s son served in the Army during World War II.

Enoch Hogate had some paralysis, and then he did not. Much improved was he, a relief to all it was.

Hogate had joined the law school in 1903 and served as the dean from 1906 to 1918. He also had a turn in the state senate prior to all of that.

Polio caused paralysis. I wonder if that’s what it was. He passed away in 1924.

This was the vessel, The Success. It was not built in 1790, but rather 1840. It was not a prison ship, unless it was. Sometimes Internet searches are contradictory. Anyway, it was by now a museum ship. A good fraud well executed, from the looks of things.

She was scuttled in 1891, re-floated the next year, restored and then sailed to England. In 1912 the vessel came to the U.S. and returned to cargo service in 1917, after which it sank. It was re-floated and turned into a museum in 1918, appeared at the Chicago World Fair and fell apart. The Success was to be scrapped on Lake Erie, but it sank for a third time. Someone pulled it up again in 1945 and it promptly ran ashore. In 1946 there was a fire that consumed it. The moral to that story, I guess, is don’t make up a fake history about your ship.

Get ’em a camera!

I wonder if they’re still hiring …

The second and third pages of the four-page rag were just poorly scanned photos of the graduating high school class, which is why we jump immediately to the scolding baby.

Look, baby, nobody likes a scold.

This one had a column jump, which is why it looks weird at the top. But let’s get a load of those people. George Washington Henley had graduated from the law school here three years prior. He went into private practice and got married soon after.

The well-known home boy would serve as a state lawmaker for a decade and, later, sat on the state Supreme Court bench for two months. He was a replacement until the end of a term, but he didn’t want to stay on. He needed to get back to his own clients and he just wanted, Wikipedia says, the prestige. He died in 1965 and was eulogized by the university president. His wife survived him by a dozen years, and was living in California when she passed away.

This is why you should keep Googling names. One of the attendants of their wedding was Paul Feltus. He would become a newspaper editor, witnessed and reported on the atomic bomb tests in 1946 and served as a board member for the university. He wrote four silent film scripts, served in the artillery in World War I and was a colonel in the state guard in the 1940s.

Now, a life of 81 years can’t be distilled into a paragraph, but a paragraph like that hints at an interesting life.

Because the second and third pages were poor artifacts, and because the last page was torn right through the copy, you’re getting a second wedding announcement.

This was Melvin’s second wife. His first died young after just six months of marriage. She was ill most of that time. They had 17 years of unalloyed happiness, I hope. His second wife had a child and died in her 40s, in 1934. Fender kept on farming, retired, and passed away in 1958 at 74.

OK, “Bobby.”

I spent a lot of time looking into this ad. I’m not sure Bobby was a real person.

May 20

This is for the birds

I do believe spring and summer showed up on the same day, making themselves unmistakably known during today’s little jog. It was a simple and persperific 5K, and the first time this year that has felt actually warm during a ride or run. Oh, I’ll sweat in almost any temperature. We are, however, now suddenly, and without any proper build-up befitting it’s importance, flirting with that time when you wonder if the concept of sweat does, in fact, cool you down like you were always told.

Which sounds like I can’t be pleased by the weather. Too cold. Too gray. Too damp. Too hot. And for the first two those your analysis is correct. For the third, no such thing. For the fourth, I just need a week or two of acclimation, that’s all. And that’s where we find ourselves today, wishing there’d been a proper subtle transition. But sometimes you aren’t allowed nice things, meteorologically speaking.

Sometimes we complain just because we can.

Hey, 77 felt fantastic. And then I elevated my heart rate a little and the sweat started stinging my eyes and that was fine, I guess. Later I got to that point where the ol’ internal thermostat decides to flip on over and there’s a signal from the engine room: all pores answering. And that’s how my run ended, doing planks, sweating a lot, laughing at the idea of a spring, missed.

It sounds like a mid-20th American novel: The Spring Season Lost.

None were concerned at the bird feeders. The blackbird least of all:

Fun tidbit about the House Finch. It was originally a western bird. Someone took them east to try to sell them in the early 1940s, but eventually set them free in disgust. (“I just knew these people were going to want them as caged birds!”) And they’ve spread to be seen across the country and southern Canada since.

That’d be an annoying caged bird, if you ask me. But rare is the bird that isn’t. And they should all be flying free, filling their role in the ecosystem, not cluttering up the house.

Now this guy isn’t judging me, at all:

It took a long while to win over this blue jay for pictures. But at least he didn’t attack me:

I got a few nice shots of him. And I think I understand his hesitancy.

He’s conscientious about his combover!

May 20

So many photos to enjoy

Happy late Mother’s Day. I think all of our flowers arrived today. But the cards got there early. One of those years. Mothers, being moms, completely understand.

The cats are doing just fine. Phoebe is in a tunnel phase:

It’d be wrong to ascribe human emotions to cats, of course, but that is one content-looking cat:

I have decided to keep the cats out of my home office for the many breakable things. Any closed door, to a cat, is an opportunity. (A mentality I totally appreciate.) But figure out the pattern, dude. I open the door, you sneak in, I scoop you up and put you back out in the hall. He has not figured out the pattern. So I made a sign.

The Yankee says it was nice of me to put it at eye level. That, I thought, was the best part of the joke.

He disagrees. And he likes to let me know about it.

A view of one of the local lakes from Friday’s lovely bike ride:

One of the apps that I use — there are three — to track rides gives you the maximum speed you hit on each mile segment. There were 35 miles in that particular ride and there are a lot of times that make sense: 27.2, 25.2, 28.8, 24.5, 28.1. If you looked at the terrain or stop signs or things, it tracks very well.

Except for that one spot where, I know I was sprinting, but I’m fairly certain I didn’t hit 2,513.9 miles per hour.

I will accept the data it gives me for a split three miles down the road where it says I was doing 51 mph. Probably I wasn’t — in my experience when you hit about 46 it all starts to feel noticeably different — but I’ll accept it.

The Yankee on her weekend run:

I was on my weekend sit-on-the-deck phase …

I was sitting on the deck to have a Mother’s Day call and watch the birds. Check out this little guy:

You can sit up close to a bird feeder and, if they are hungry enough, most birds will come to accept your not being in the way of their dinner:

Anyway, it was a fine time, a nice long chat about this and that, some pleasant weather for a change and watching the wildlife go by:

Like I’m a nature photographer over here:

A red-winged black bird on the ground, very common in this area:

One of our neighborly cardinals, which aren’t exactly in abundance, but not scarce. I guess that means they are plentiful. There are at least four:

And a nice brief little look at an Indigo bunting:

We call the red-winged blackbird a Superman Bird. You can really see it when he flies. And I guess you’ll have to take my word for it since I only have pictures of it standing around:

And a nice red head finch wrapped up the photo safari on our back deck.

So that was the weekend. And how was yours? And back to the new week. How’s yours shaping up?