Earth science is a hard class to take

I admit it; I did something sort of dumb.

It?s interterm at Tabor College, which means students are on overseas trips, in class, or at home being bums.

Silly me, I opted for the hardest and am taking a class called earth science.

So while fellow classmates are either international or staying home and sleeping in, I?m sitting in a classroom learning about rocks.

Let me be a bit more specific.

So far we have learned about minerals, rocks, plate tectonics, salinity, glaciers, oceans, meteorology, astronomy and, for just a few minutes, astrology.

I wish I could say earth science was easy?for example, we spent one lab period scraping minerals with our fingernails?but it?s actually fairly hard.

Harder than I expected, at least.

(Sorry, using ?hard? to describe earth science is a poorly constructed pun attempt.)

I should have taken the hint last December, when I ran into my high school science teacher. After some small talk, she asked what I was taking during interterm. I told her earth science. She laughed.

This month-long class is a whole semester?s worth of information. Almost four hours of class every day, plus two lab sessions a week.

There is no time for napping. There?s barely time for lunch.

But I have learned a lot of useless information that?as an English major?I will probably never need, unless I happen to be writing a column about it.

For example, for a raindrop of snowflake to form, the water particles must first have something like a small piece of dirt, to cling to. Or that marble is formed from limestone.

This class has also given me good pun material; for example, don?t take igneous rocks for granite. (Pun: geology rocks!)

My geological education came in handy last Saturday when I visited the Kansas Underground Salt Museum and mine in Hutchinson.

The trip was for the annual Rod?s Tire & Service Month-After-Christmas Party. I?m sort of considered an employee because I spend Sunday afternoons scrubbing the toilets there.

I?ve always wanted to visit the salt mine, so I was excited about the trip. After descending 650 feet, or a few million years of earth history, we arrived in the mines where we met our tour guide, Matt.

Matt was a fun guy who knew a lot about the mines, but also joked a lot about getting us lost.

?I get lost about once every day,? Matt said, ?and considering this is my last tour of the day and I haven?t gotten lost yet, the odds are looking good.?

Pun: We had to take everything Matt said with a grain of salt.

Matt drove us through the mines on a small trolley, pointing out the various points of interest.

He also explained why the walls were a layered mixture of salt and silt (which I knew from earth science), the crystallization process (earth science), and how the walls and ceilings were constantly moving from the absorption of water (earth science).

The best part was when he turned off all the lights and told us to wave our hands in front of our faces. That?s when I accidentally smacked myself.

Pun: The salt mine was a hit!

Matt dropped us off for the walking portion of the tour, where we could watch videos of the mining process and view some of the things that are stored in the inactive parts of the mine.

Hollywood costumes and props?the Batman and Mr. Freeze suits and chocolate bars from ?Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? were on display?and a newspaper from the day after President Lincoln was assassinated.

Rod?s staff enjoyed the trip, but?because of the ?No Picking or Licking? rule?we weren?t allowed to taste the walls, which was what made the trip (pun warning) a miner success.

On the way home, the topic of bodily functions was brought up, as the workers spent long hours under the surface.

?You can?t expect that the miners would go to a certain place to do their business while underground,? was the main argument. ?They probably just went anywhere that nature called.?

Pun: Talk about mining your own business!

In conclusion, let me just say that earth science really isn?t too bad. Learning about weather and volcanoes and aquifers is actually mildly interesting. I?d come up with some sort of witty pun to tie everything together, but my well has run dry. (Rim shot.)

* * *

UFO: The salt mine, being made of salt, would melt if it ever got wet. That?s why they don?t allow drinks. Can you say pothole? Also, anything that goes into the mine is preserved because of the salt. But if it?s taken back up, it would instantly corrode.

Go ahead and ask me why. I?m in earth science.

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