Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Year

Well it is that special day that happens once every 4 years.

Happy Leap Year Day.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Now Thats Just Peachy

As I commented in the last post, here are some very small peaches forming on the tree. In that first picture the largest peach is probably comparable to a quarter and the other to a dime.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Peach Blooms

The peach tree is continuing to provide blooms into our winter season. My cousin suggested I pollinate some of the blooms since the bees are in hibernation right now. So I took an ear swab and brushed it across the flowers several weeks ago.

They have such beautiful pink flowers.

Yesterday, I noticed some small peaches forming on some of the branches. There will be some pictures of these later in the week.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Minerals in Fossils

Here are two pictures that show some material substitutions in fossils. The first is quartz or silicon dioxide in brachiopod fossils and the second shows pyrite or iron sulfide in some shell like fossils.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Trilobite FOUND!

This morning I went on my first field trip with the KYANA Geological Society ( They are very nice people and we visited a road cut on Bardstown Road in Bullitt County, Kentucky. The site had a lot of brachiopods and I found about 35 fully intact ones. I also found 13 pieces of cephalopods, bryozoans, gastropods, quartz, and pyrite.

My BIG find of the day was a almost fully intact trilobite! I was getting ready to leave and looked out the outcrop near the vehicles. We were examining the rock across the road so no one was really looking at the smaller group of rock. I was finding some nice very small fossils with good detail since I was so close to the rock area and the rains had washed off the rocks well. I looked some more in the area around where I found this one but did not spot anymore pieces.

Friday, February 22, 2008

View of Maya 2008 Render

Here is another view of the object I posted yesterday but the parts are now separated to show the detail of each piece.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My First Original Render in Maya 2008

Finally, have a complete model of what I am suppose to render for my first class project.

It is riddled with issues though. The metallic look does not match that of the original. The screw thread is not right at the end. I could not get a thread pattern on the inside of the wing nut. The bevel look of the circumference of the mirror is not right. I am having trouble getting a mirror shader for the mirror section. The rivets on the bottom piece are touching each other and there should be gap there. No text on the back of the mirror. No texture on the mirror handle.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fossil Sketches

These are some quick sketches I did of some crinoid stems and rugosa coral. Trying to figure out how to draw a 3-D looking tenticle.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bug Found In Autodesk Maya 2008 Unlimited

For weeks now, I have been trying to learn how to model things in the Autodesk Maya software application. I started with Maya 8.5 Personal Learning Edition (PLE) available for free from their site. At school, we use a real version of Maya 8.5 and after a while it was getting hard to make it to the lab when it was open or other activities were going on there so I order an educational copy. At this time, Autodesk is selling the newest version 2008 so I had to buy that. It has one new feature I like, a cube that shows up in the panels and on the side orthographic panel it allows right/left view flipping.

Unfortunately, a software bug appeared not long after using it. It occurred in the Color Chooser window with the background for where sliders and color choice boxes go missing. The slider and boxes still respond to mouse movement and clicks and can be used. It is just they cannot be seen.
I filed a bug report but I wonder if I get any response since it appears you have to some of support subscription to get help. It is too bad I cannot add more information to my report since when I was at school today it dawn on me that the problem could be from using two monitors with my computer. So tonight I tested that out and sure enough the main monitor works okay with the Color Chooser but the when it is displayed on the extended desktop monitor when it is in a 1280x1024 or 1400x1050 mode the area of the window disappear.
It would seem that video card in my computer is running out of memory thus the display areas have no allocation and are blank.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Another Rugosa Coral Drawing

Here is another drawing though I am not getting the tenticles looking very 3-D. One change over past drawings is the additional creatures in the picture with the main fossil creature.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Shadow Calculations

In 3-D rendering class, we are determining the shadows of objects. I am having some troubles figuring out the shadows when two light sources are present. So using a ray tracer (POVray 3.6) I started to model some of the problems. Here are the results of two of them.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

More Snow and Some Rugosa Coral

We got some more snow this morning with some snow flakes falling the back ground.

Here is my first drawing of a rugosa coral. This a scan of a 2.5" x 2.5" image so its detail is not very good.
Here are some actual rugosa corals. I am thinking of cutting the end with a rock saw to see if it shows that radial look of the interior of the coral.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


It started snowing quite a bit yesterday afternoon and into the night. Late last night it changed over to ice pellets or sleet. This morning it was rain. When I shoveled the driveway again this morning, the snow layer had a hard ice layer to it which made shoveling it out of the way pretty easy.

I am guessing snow accumulation was 6 inches or about 15 centimeters.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Catch a Trilobite By the Tail

I found a trilobite tail on Sunday but it is only about 0.3 inch or 1 cm wide though.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Fossil Mystery

I am trying to figure out if these are coral pieces or bryozoans.

REVISED (06/2008): It appears these are pieces of a branching coral described by Carl Ludwig Rominger (aka Charles Louis Rominger) as Dendropora alternans in 1876 (p.64, Plate 24, Figure 1) in his book Geological Survey of Michigan Lower Peninsula 1873-1876 Volume III Part II Palaeontology - Corals.
It is known today as Thamnoptychia alternans and described like that by E.C. Stumm in 1950.

Still some of the pieces I have are grooved with an almost fingerprint like pattern so maybe that is weathering but I have not found an image yet that looks like it. After looking at CORALS OF THE DEVONIAN TRAVERSE GROUP OF MICHIGAN PART V, TRACHYPORA
BY ERWIN C. STUMM and ALLEN S. HUNT paper and reading the description of this coral it seems that outer texture pattern might not matter in classification. Of course, I might be interpreting the academic speak wrong in this paper as well.

I continue to revise this entry but now after looking at Kentucky fossil corals, a monograph of the fossil corals of the Silurian and Devonian rocks of Kentucky, Pt. 2: Kentucky Geological Survey, xiii p., 139 pls. It appears to that surface pattern is on Plate 65, Figure 10 called Dendropora osculata or today called Trachypora osculata (Stumm). See this

Saturday, February 09, 2008

IUS Fossil Collection

Indiana University Southeast (IUS) has a small geology department. Located in the hallway of this department are several glass and wood display cases for fossils and minerals. I was able to take some pictures of the trilobite and crinoid fossils.

The pictures were taken though a glass enclosed case, no tripod, and the flash was turned off so keep that in mind when judging quality.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Ancyrocrinus Crinoid

Here is a fossil I found years ago that I always wondered what it was. While in the library the other day I found out what it was. It is part of crinoid called ancyrocrinus and what that part is the bottom of the crinoid. It was like a weighted grappling hooks or an anchor that would drag along the sea bottom until it got snagged on something. The top part would have the stem and the calyx. So this crinoid was mobil.

This fossil only has one hook left. The other three and the stem are broken off.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Sketches of Mirror Tool

I am working on sketching a tool to eventually render in Maya 8.5. The mirror is causing me issues where I am not getting its perspective correct. Also drawing it from the side is not correct.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Storms and the Alert System

Last night we had some very intense storms in this area. My alarm clock/radio has a NOAA alert feature that sounds a claxon like sound which was intended to wake the near dead. The problem with it is it would go off for about every alert within 60 miles of us. So sometimes early in the morning the alarm would sound and it would be for somewhere in south central Indiana.

So I got a zoned weather radio that once you tell it your particular county it will only go off if the alert is for that county. It went off around 12:10 AM this morning, twice. So it got my attention to go look out the window in which the sirens started going off. We went downstairs and sat in a windowless room with the radio on till the weather alert was over around 12:35 AM. I think the sirens went off 3 times and the houses across the street had their lights on so it got their attention as well.

Luckily, not a lot damage occurred. I saw a sign blown over and a tree blown out of the ground on the main street of our subdivision. A number of people died across the country in that storm system so it is good that we have system to keep us vigilant.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

More Peach Flowers

The tree now seems to have 7 or so flowers and about 5 leaves open up. The weather today is rainy but the temperature could get to 70 F. It is neat to see the flowers but I hope I did not mess up the tree's cycle by bringing it in doors.

Monday, February 04, 2008


The Louisville Science Center has a neat activity for the Discovery room where some artifacts from Egypt are stored. A person can make words with the hieroglyphs. In this case, I made my name.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Windows XP Issue with HP Pavilion ze5570us

We have a notebook computer that works quite nicely except that Windows XP will have its security file (SAM) every so often. It happened again about 3 days ago and I fixed it today. Last time it happened was July 2007. Before that I think it happened 2-3 times.

When it first happened, Windows would boot up and give a message that a file was corrupted. I could not get to a desktop even in safe mode. The restore CDs that came with the computer will do a complete reformat and install of the computer so all data will be lost. I tried boot disks and could not get to windows. Eventually, I tried to boot up in Linux and see the file system. I could so I then transferred files to USB memory drives. Once all our user files were copied I ran the reformat CDs but encountered another issue. The 4th disk was defective. After dealing with HP support numerous times I finally was able to get new set of disks for $48. They worked and I restored the system back the best I could.

After that files we worked were stored to external USB so when the next time it happened it would be easier to start over. It happened again but this time I found that using Linux to see the file system I could access the /windows/system32/config directory where the corrupted file was and it could be replaced by the files in the /windows/repair directory. After doing this some things still seemed out of date but I did not have to reformat the system. After getting applications back on I made a backup point in Windows XP.

I cannot figure out why this happening but I am glad I have a better procedure for repairing the system. I did run a bootable memory test for about 16 hours to see if the memory on the PC was having issues but it recorded no errors found.

Eventually, I new notebook will needed to replace it since at the rate it is going it will fail 2 more times this year.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Mystery Rock

Recently, I was helping my uncle and aunt with a computer problem at their house. As I was leaving I noticed a rock on the counter that was kind of odd. It seemed heavy like metal but my uncle ran a metal detector over it and it did not trigger it.

It looked like it had pyrite in it but some of it was reddish-orange as if it was oxidizing. The pyrite is at the top of the rock and seems to be about 0.25 inch wide with some showing through at the top surface in a ring shape.

My uncle let me have it and told me it had come from a relative's pond in southern Indiana. Some oil had leaked into the pond from an accident and they had to drain the pond. At the bottom they found some rocks like this one.

It is kind of in the shape of a nut going to a bolt but I put a rare earth magnet to it and nothing happened. I took an ohm meter and it showed about a megaohm of resistantence at bottom across that smaller round area near the center. No conductivity on that section or across the rock.

I scrapped it with a screw driver looking for a metal streak but pieces broke off that were dark grey revealing just more dark grey rock.

The dimensions are roughly 1 inch in diameter at the top by 0.75 inch tall by 1.25 inch in diameter at the bottom. The weight is just about at 2 ounces. Sorry, I try and come back and input the metric values later. I need to get the scale out and verify the weight as well.