From: Marty Leipzig
To: Steve Quarrella
Subject: Off to see the Lizards
Location: FidoNet's HOLYSMOKE Echo
>ML> Yep. Many, many times. Remind
>ML> me to tell you the time a bunch of us from the HGAS (Houston
>ML> Geological Alcohol Society) met up with a bunch of fundies
>ML> ripping up the local scenery looking for mantracks...
SQ> This has GOT to be a riot!
Well, remember...you DID ask
It seems that a few years back, I was to deliver an address at
the annual AAPG (or was it GSA?) convention to be held in
Dallas. Inasmuch as a number of my collegues, of whom I've seen
none since my grad and beyond school days, were making the
pilgrammage to Dallas; we decided that after the convention we
would do a field and road trip back to Houston, for them to
depart to their places called home.
So, we attended the convention where my paper was received
warmly and hotly (sparked a bit of controversy, but what the
hell...) to the hoots and catcalls of my associates. After the
convention, we procured a rental for the 6 of us (one of two
types of off-road vehicle. The other is called "4-wheel drive".
Auto rental companies HATE geologists.), and headed out onto
the open and dusty roads of South and Western Texas.
Seeing as it was so hot and dusty, our provisions consisted of
no less than 15 cases of ice-cold beer and a bag of Doritos
(what we were going to do with all that food still remains a
mystery). Our travels wandered us all over SW & SE Texas...
to Marble Falls to visit the Precambrian Llano Granite, over to
a couple of dimension stone quarries in the Edwards Limestone in
and around Bandera to collect fossils, over to Shiner for the
Brewery tour and ultimately, over to Glen Rose to look at the
_Acrocanthasaurus_ tracks. Here's where things got REAL
It seems that just as we arrived at the tracksite, a church bus
full of devout parishioners disembARKed. We sashayed over and
asked what all the brouhaha was about. They told us that today
was a special day, as the experts from some "Big, Western Christian
College" (never did find out if it was the ICR, but I couldn't locate
the "experts" name in any accredited college's list of denizens) was
coming to town to show all the devout types just where man and
dinosaur had trodden cheek-by-jowl.
We all decided that this was going to be too good to miss, and
what developed was a little reception that would have warmed the
cockles of any Noachian Delugian much the same way Sherman had
warmed up Atlanta.
Well, we all just milled about, sipping cold ones, awaiting the
arrival of the "expert(s)". We were not disappointed. Precisely
1 hour and 22 minutes late, the "expert from the BWCC" showed.
He was a smarmy and unctuous type who just oozed Christian good
will, like a planarian exudes slime, resplendant in his shiny
three piece suit and tall, simonized hair. He boldly ventured
into the crowd, expecting the devout to part like some latter
day Red Sea.
They did, we didn't.
It just so happened that there was a loose slab of flaggy
limestone that was lying on the path. Anyone with the merest
moiety of geological savvy KNOWS one should never wander around
an outcrop without good hiking boots nor an eye for loose rock.
After we helped him to his feet and he dusted himself off, he
started making pronouncements about the age of the rocks, their
composition and basked in the oohs! and ahs! of his sheep. Such
knowledge! Such stentorian proclamations! He must know of what
Or so they thought.
In the crowd at this time was a Inorganic Geochemist, Petroleum
Geologist\Archosaurian Vertebrate Paleontologist (yours truly),
Metamorphic Petrologist, Clastic Sedimentologist, Palynological
Biostratigrapher and an Invertebrate Paleontologist; all of
whom, individually and collectively, possessed more degrees than
a thermometer factory. And each had about a sixpack under their
belts (with a hungry look in their eye and a cheeseburger in
their pockets, but that is another story). After the gushing
simmered down, Cliff asked him about the relative
dolomitization of the superincumbant strata just below the
The silence was deafening.
Deciding that this was just too much fun, I asked him why all
the "human footprints" had the exact same travel vectors as the
positively identified dinosaur ichnos and why they lacked all
the same soft-sediment deformation as the dinosaur tracks.
We damn near blew it on that one. The groundswell of snickers
and throat clearings responding to his attempts at water
treading where he was obviously in over his head was
At this time, Randy walks over to a ledge overlooking a clear
stream pool. "Look! Over here! Mantracks!" Verily, a crush of
true believers surged forward (Randy carefully stepping out of
the way) transporting the "expert" like snow before a plow.
Momentum is a wonderful thing. We, being good atheists, helped
drag him out and get him back over to high ground to dry out
Suddenly, out of a clearing, above and to the right (of the
hand of God, I'm sure some thought) came Cliff. A sight to
behold. Fully 2 meters tall, 20 stone if a pebble, fully
bearded with a slight buzz on; he had gone back to the car and got
every bit of geological equipment that he could either carry or
hang on his belt. He walked with a Jacob's staff like the
walking stick of Moses. He carried Brunton compasses, acid
bottles, map cases, hammers of virtually every description,
sample bags, leather gauntlets, a shining aluminum hardhat,
chisels, gad-pry bars, and a sixpack of beer slung precariously
out of his daypack. "I am the ONE, TRUE expert!" he bellowed.
"I will have no false experts before me!" By this time, the
remaining five of us just flat out lost it. We were laughing
uproariously. The devout traded puzzled glances and looked
skyward wondering what, indeed, had just happened.
Cliff began clanking down the outcrop (punctuated with shrill
cries of Rock! and Headache! to the enjoyment of all), and
headed straight toward the BWCC expert..."What OF the
soft-sediment deformation?" he thundered. "What of the admitted
forgeries?"...What of the bogus photographs and tinkered
evidence?"...By this time all could see that Cliff was stalking
the "expert", and the expert; realizing this, began rapid
backpedaling toward his car.
"What of the photochromatic doctoring of the trackways?" he
continued. With each incriminating question, his voice rose 10
decibels. Assuredly, no one was missing this performance. "What
of the Trask parameters?" "What of the Niggli norms?"
I looked over at Glen. "Trask parameters? Niggli norms? What
does igneous classification have to do with all this?"
Glen shrugged, popped a cold one and flatly intoned: "Forget
it. He's on a roll."
The murmur in the crowd began to grow. We couldn't help but
further try and cultivate the seeds of skepticism we had sown.
"Ask him about the staining on the footprints!" "Ask him about
the toe-claw impressions found on the 'Mantracks!'" Rumble,
So, we pressed on firing off embarassing questions; knowing full
well he had no answers. By this time, the "expert" had reached
his vehicle with a sizeable crowd in tow; with us leading the
pack. "You are all a bunch of trouble makers!" he shouted
directly at us. "You were sent here to discredit me!". Once
again, the global conspiracy (right, RevRonnie?). His parting
shot gave us all the warm fuzzies: "You haven't heard the last
of me!" And with that, and spinning tires, the expert
Having had so much fun, we gathered up our cameras and went to
finish our little tour as time steadily marched on. Just as we
returned to the rental, who should show up again but the
"expert", with the local sheriff close behind.
"That's them!" he literally screamed (babbling in tongues was
sure to follow). The Sheriff walked up to us and said "This
fella says you accosted him".
"Nope." six times simultaneously. "Not us." "Must have been six
The expert was seething. "They made a mockery of my talk".
"No." I said, "We made a mockery of you."
The Sheriff piped up: "He says you deliberately baited him."
"Did he also mention that we were sacreligious, disrepectful
and contemptuous? Sorry, Sir, but even in this state, that's
"Who are you guys?" the Sheriff asked.
Before we could stop him, Steve chimes in "That's Dr. Guys, to
Glen immediately countered with: "Just a bunch of college buddies
out on a little road trip."
"College students?", mused the Sheriff, obviously thinking we
were on the 12 year plan.
"Actually ex-college students", continued Glen; "Cliff got his
doctorate in MetPet, Marty sold out and gave up teaching for
the oil biz, Steve is still busy milking the system for research
grants in Palynology and Biostratigraphy..."
It's hard to describe how the color drained from the face of
the "expert" as he realized he had just grandly and greatly been
"You're all a bunch of Godless atheists (or something very
close to that)!" swore the expert as he got in his car and
sped off into the setting sun. That was the only thing he
got right that day.