An apology: To geologists everywhere

Before I get on to Thanksgiving, there’s something I need to say. But first, a story.

It was during my first job out of graduate school when I encountered my worst boss ever. One specific incident triggered something new: a compulsive fear of printing (posting, in today’s world) anything with an error. Back then, I had selected the chemical name “tetrachloroethene” for a document for a Seattle-area client. Wikipedia today clarifies for my foggy memory of yesterday that tetrachloroethene is accepted by IUPAC (International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry) for what we may more commonly call tetrachloroethylene. For whatever reason, I had selected the IUPAC name for my thesis that I had only months prior completed. But back then, my boss was livid! I tried to explain to her how it was a synonym, but to no avail. I was pleased when I left that job but I never left behind the memories of that experience: no way would I ever be an editor.

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Table from Dede’s master thesis 1986: dot matrix printer….

Fast forward three decades, and I’m pleased to publish my memoir. Happy not to be my final editor, though I did approve final edits. And as many authors unfortunately find, there might be occasional typos in their book: you can’t figure out how it’s there, but you try to just let it go. My husband, however, just identified an error that to him was substantial and shocking. So to all my geologist friends – I apologize. I should have known. I did know, and yet, in the writing of this book I have no idea how it escaped me to identify the U.S. Geological Survey as the U.S. Geological Service. Darn, should have said USGS! Maybe it was tumbled in my brain with the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Park Service and the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Public Health Service.

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All of this does take me back to an earliest conversation with my spouse, then my geologist boyfriend: he could not fathom that my only “C” in college was in Dave Alt’s Geology 101 at the University of Montana. Yes, folks, I got a “C” from the famous author of all the Roadside Geology books. At the time, I traded barbs as Russ had been confused explaining the difference between meiosis and mitosis as a substitute teacher: something to me, a biology major, that was shocking. So in the end, let’s just say, Dear Dr. Alt: apparently you gave the right kid a “C.” I’ll try to do better in the future. Oh, and the last tsunami hit Washington’s coast about three hundred years ago. Just saying.

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