Rocks

Prose, including snippets (mini-memoirs).
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mnaz
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Rocks

Post by mnaz » August 6th, 2018, 2:37 pm

In the desert I always carried a copy of Basin and Range. The Book of Rock. John McPhee's fine account of its distant past. I'd come in at a random page and slowly work my way through. The Book of Rock was grounded in deeper knowledge even if filled with a lot of the usual scientific mega-numbers, which tended to render rock stories meaningless . . . Like when the Oquirrh Mountains, near Salt Lake, jumped up along their fault line, and in so doing lifted the remains of sixty million year old ancestral mountains. Which is no way to speak about a mountain for godssake! No! The mountain has always been there, right where it was put. You can't just destroy it with numbers.
......But out there I saw rock tribulations, rifts and strata multitudes, and started to believe the rock-tapping scholars who claimed that rock was never a fixed stage; it was a long grind, most of it long ago devoured, its story pieced together from surface remnants. The hymn said to build on solid rock, but what if rock was fallible and fluid? . . . erupted, heaved up, folded, fractured, washed out, compressed and raised again; the same eternal processes driven by internal fire, grinding forever, until in some impossibly distant epoch the fire burns low and mountains no longer rise but wear down to cold plains of dirt.
......And if you believe in this, you suddenly become impossibly small. You are up against deep time . . . If you spend time in the basin and range, mountain rhythms in space are revealed, but deep time could reveal mountain rhythms in time; the impossible rise and fall of immovable and immortal. In that eternal shift you imagine how Earth toys with a mountain, plays cards with it for a few eons until the mountain is too old to hold snow, not long for its horizon. Then you imagine the mountain toying with history, sleeping through most of it.
......The mountain usually sleeps, but sometimes lets loose a loud belch and raises enough hell that a ledge shakes and breaks loose in some enchanted canyon and hangs for a thousand years until toppling in 1941 . . . Those silent canyons and breathless lulls are worlds outside of worlds. Prehistoric glances. Storms and earthquakes seem like connections to rock mortality, but rock lives on its own incomprehensible, inhuman time frame.

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sasha
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Re: Rocks

Post by sasha » August 6th, 2018, 4:59 pm

profound & powerful read

My bible is two volumes by Neil Jorgensen - "Field Guide to the New England Landscape" and "Naturalist's Guide to Southern New England". When you look around you at the landscape as an ecosystem, a system, as a single living organism, truths & patterns emerge you might never have considered before. Like with your "static, unchanging" rocks.

Ever see the HBO miniseries "From the Earth to the Moon"? The episode "Galileo Was Right" might resonate with you, as it follows the crew of Apollo 15 during their geological training in the southwestern desert.....
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mnaz
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Re: Rocks

Post by mnaz » August 8th, 2018, 9:58 am

"You can't get into the trip unless you get small enough..." is what I found myself thinking after pondering the fathomless mystery of deep time. A light bulb went on in "empty" desert spaces-- rock! Up North it was always buried under moss, trees, clouds and parking lots, but I could get its sculpture in arid light. And deep space too. I'd never seen so far into space, out in those large blank spots on a map, free of light pollution and the great evergray canopy hanging over evergreens...

And yes, the moon shots fascinate me increasingly as more time passes (probably why I've watched Apollo 13 about ten times...)

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Re: Rocks

Post by sasha » August 8th, 2018, 4:45 pm

mnaz wrote:
August 8th, 2018, 9:58 am
the moon shots fascinate me increasingly as more time passes (probably why I've watched Apollo 13 about ten times...)
Same here. I still get teary & choked up when communication with the capsule is finally restored after reentry.

I can confidently recommend Tom Hanks' "From the Earth to the Moon", a 12-part HBO docu-drama covering the moon shots, from Project Mercury through the final moon landing. The effects are not up to "Apollo 13" standards, but serviceable, and besides, it's about the stories & the people behind them. My favorite is episode 5, focusing on the engineering effort to build the LM - by fat, nerdy engineers in horn-rimmed glasses, white short-sleeved shirts, & narrow black ties. Those are my people! I love those guys. It really captures the feel of working in an engineering bullpen. Second favorite would be #7, covering the 2nd landing. Conrad really did say those 1st words when he stepped off the ladder............
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mnaz
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Re: Rocks

Post by mnaz » August 18th, 2018, 12:41 pm

Good stuff (though Tom Hanks ... *cringe*...). Sounds like some pretty amazing video. Yes, the LEM was always the most fascinating part of the ship to me, all funky and spidery-looking..

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Re: Rocks

Post by sasha » August 18th, 2018, 5:00 pm

Hanks only appears in episode 12. He oversaw production of the series & delivered a brief on-camera intro to each episode a la Rod Serling. Interestingly, Alan Shepard was played by Ted Levine - Jamie Gumm, the trans serial killer in "Silence of the Lambs". (Scott Glen, who played agent Starling's boss in that movie was Al Shepard in "The Right Stuff"!) Many of the other actors in FTETTM looked quite a bit like the people they were portraying, esp. the guys that played Frank Borman, Ed White, Jack Schmidt, Pete Conrad, & several others.
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mnaz
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Re: Rocks

Post by mnaz » August 20th, 2018, 2:57 pm

Thanks. I'd definitely like to watch that series. Funny, I was only 7 when Apollo 11 landed, so the full impact of what the Apollo program accomplished didn't really sink in until 1994 when I was watching a 25th Anniversary special, and then, less than a year later, the movie about 13 came out (okay, I admit, Hanks did a pretty good job in that flick). Back in the early '70s people were talking like we'd always be flying to the moon...

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Re: Rocks

Post by sasha » August 20th, 2018, 4:45 pm

I was 19. I was glued to the TV during all of the Gemini flights and the Apollo flights - well remember Armstrong's brush with death on Gemini 8, the fire, the magic of Apollo 8's Christmas Eve broadcast from the moon, how touch & go were the final moments of Apollo 11's touchdown, and the impact of Armstrong's words "...big shadow... picking up some dust..." To this day, I get emotional when I listen to audio of the final moments.

Fun facts: Jim Lovell has a cameo in "Apollo 13", as the commander of the recovery ship. And Chuck Yeager has one in "The Right Stuff", as the old bartender at Pancho's.
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Re: Rocks

Post by mnaz » August 20th, 2018, 5:21 pm

I think Lovell's wife Marylin also had a cameo, at the launch scene if I remember correctly. I have the DVD set with the Lovells' commentary-- interesting. Jim wasn't shy about pointing out scenes where the director went a bit excessive on drama, but he said most of it was true to life.

I remember thinking as a kid: "how do they know they can even land on that surface? What if it's loose dust and the ship just sinks in? But the rest is history...

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Re: Rocks

Post by sasha » August 27th, 2018, 1:06 pm

mnaz wrote:
August 20th, 2018, 5:21 pm
"how do they know they can even land on that surface? What if it's loose dust and the ship just sinks in? But the rest is history...
Much earlier, that was a serious concern - but robotic landings by both the US (Surveyor) and the USSR (Lunik) had laid that fear to rest. In fact, one of the items on the Apollo 12 checklist was to land near enough one of the Surveyors to bring parts of it back home.
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Re: Rocks

Post by goldenmyst » January 13th, 2019, 11:35 pm

I recall taking my wife to NASA and Houston where we watched a video of the moon shots. I was moved beyond belief. Your poetic account of geologic history is also moving. You take eons of subduction and mountains rising and falling and create a poetry which transcends science.

John

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