In starting the Geology 101 thread the other day, I said the first thing a geologist needs to do is look around. But there are many "first things" to do, and just as necessary as looking around is looking downthat is, looking at rocks.
Nothing is more ordinary than rocks, right? Well, that's wrong. I can say that easily because I've been looking intently at rocks for a lifetime. But if you're new to the task, it can be hard to get past the idea that rocks are just dull, generic things underneath all the interesting stuff. If you're new to the task, you'll be like the innumerable people who send me email photos of a rock saying, "I've looked all over the web and found nothing." Looking at rocks, it turns out, is something you have to learn. The web doesn't help much, which is why I wrote "How to Look at a Rock." It turns out that looking down also involves looking around.