4.08.2015,10:30 PM
When is a Brontosaurus not a brontosaurus? Never!
Dear Mr and Mrs. Brontosaurus,

You were always my favorite dinosaur. You were with me when I was little. I kept your little rubber figures next to my bed.

When I was a teenager, I ducked underneath the 'Stay Out!' ribbon and crawled underneath a life-sized replica of you. I sat and gazed up through your skeleton until they threw me out of the museum.

I protested when they took your name away, and whispered to you that I would always call you 'brontosaurus'.

When I was in my early 40's You came home with me from a big famous museum and sat on my dresser. You were almost as big as my upper dresser drawer.

When I had my lab in north Texas, a smaller version of you hung over our PCR machine to bring luck to our experiments.

Now they have given you your name back. But, rest assured, my friends, you have always been 'brontosaurus' in my mind and in my dreams.

Welcome Home, my noble beast.

'Brontosaurus' name resurrected by new dino family tree

 "The fossils originally called Brontosaurus show enough skeletal differences from other specimens of Apatosaurus that they rightfully belong to a different genus. The study, published online this week in the journal PeerJ, brings the long-banished name back into scientific respectability as a genus coequal with Apatosaurus."

Science| DOI: 10.1126/science.aab2447

(And Pluto is still 'Pluto', the planet!! :)

Bronty. The good luck PCR dinosaur. She later retired to DNA sequence analysis.
posted by Macrobe
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2.16.2015,12:41 PM
A place amongst the invisible
"Escaping notice need not be about complacent isolation, mindless conformity or humiliating anonymity. When circumstance confers invisibility upon us, perhaps it is something to appreciate and even welcome, as some iteration of the small imprint, low-impact living it makes sense to aspire to. Or possibly as a more profound poise, a fuller appreciation for our place in the greater scheme of things."

How to Be Invisible, by Akiko Busch, a New York Times essay.

I love this essay. Surrounded by the current crazy need for 'notice me now!' in our current world, I still treasure the solitary moments of invisibility. For those of us that seek it to find a balance in our modern lack of privacy, read this essay.

Growing up, I sought invisibility. Not because of insecurities, but to immerse myself in the natural world around me. The demands of people competed with lessons I wished to learn. It taught me much about not only myself, but about all other life. And influenced my life, from career to relationships with people and animals.

"...it can be a condition of insight and endurance, a position of strength and power, a matter of knowing how and where we can be best accommodated by the exterior world. It can reflect a knowledge that we are of a larger world and that our survival depends on knowing this — not a bad thing to be reminded of when our disruptions of the natural environment result in everything from freakishly warm temperatures to ocean acidification."
posted by Macrobe
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1.12.2015,7:56 PM
Fort Craig, New Mexico
Last weekend was cultural history time for me.

Visited Fort Craig for a day. A more thorough post will be uploaded later in the week. For now....

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posted by Macrobe
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1.11.2015,10:43 AM
What's love got to do with it.........
Perhaps after five decades, 'love' and all the related entanglements become something one can pick up and wear for a day, like a piece of clothing, or it becomes an old friend and companion, always at your side but without all the frivolous ornaments that adorn younger phases. And then for some of us it's a dog-eared well-worn book read only by ourselves, constantly rewritten.

Regardless, truth is always in the eyes. Which is why so many people are very uncomfortable with eye-to-eye contact. It doesn't have to be 'love'. Too many 'lovers' and 'friends' avert prolonged eye contact. Some of them don't want to know the truth, or they try to hide it. The eyes have a language all their own.

The eyes say it all.
posted by Macrobe
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1.04.2015,11:24 AM
Retirement Career

My life has taken on a new meaning since volunteering at the national wildlife refuges. A new mission that is more productive, rewarding and self-satisfying. I'm broke, homeless, and I love it.

For the past six years, our current global trends have depressed me. The rapid loss of natural diversity and the spiraling decline in connections between humans and their environment, the lack of compassion between people themselves and with other creatures, a prevailing disconnect and abuse of power by public officials and policies. The growing corporatization of higher education and science while sacrificing quality teaching and research was the final clincher.

I fled from the Empire. I left academia to fight at the grassroots level.To lend a voice to those creatures whose plights are disregarded by humans. And to help people become aware and more appreciative of the intrinsic and moral values in their environments. My mission is to help people better understand their environment and to establish meaningful connections with nature.

My life is very now different from the last several decades. In some sense, it is reminiscent of my years in Maine when connections with the land and wildlife were the strongest. Shedding most of the personal burdens that anchored me like a chain the past ten years has simplified and lightened my life. The sacrifice of personal possessions and commitments for a nomadic and simpler lifestyle suits me well. Indeed, I haven't been this happy in almost 10 years.

Now I travel around the country to live and work at the national and state refuges. I share my interests and knowledge of natural and cultural history with visitors. I also help the ecologists and biologists with my varied skills in the life sciences. My reward is spending time with the wildlife and visiting natural areas, and sharing many wonders of natural science with visitors.

Traveling offers opportunities to experience not only a large diversity of wildlife, but also meet a wide diverse sampling of our own species. What amazes me is the people that come to the refuges from all over the world.  I've met people from Canada, Argentina, Switzerland, Netherlands, Israel, England, Scotland, South Africa, Italy, Australia, and France.

Additionally, people from my past have resurfaced in many places, such as a woman from my hometown 44 years ago and a former colleague from 17 years ago. I have also had the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and spend time with family members.

The most precious experiences are those gained from immersing myself in the surrounding wild nature of life. I had an eye-to-eye encounter with a juvenile bald eagle twelve feet from me, chats with ravens, songbirds sit on my shoulder, frequent sightings of a local cougar, delight at the play of an otter family, and watching behavior of many birds as they live out their lives. What they share with me, I try to share with others.

Opportunities to spend time in fantastic wild areas frequently fills my free time. Camping for days on Steens Mountain in eastern Oregon, hiking miles in the painted deserts of Oregon and Arizona, spending two nights at the base of towering cliff and alkaline lake with no humans within miles, and smelling the musky scent at my feet of bighorn sheep was I stood on a rim gazing thousands of feet below. I gladly trade the conveniences of cafes and supermarkets for these experiences.

 The world is fantastic, marvelous and beautiful out there. I am glad to break out of the small, trivial and many times petty world that was chocking and suffocating me.

This is my new life as a nomad. And this is my new retirement 'career': to help foster and nurture connections between people and wildlife, to rejuvenate compassion. My optimism is encouraged by the dedication and commitment of those people working in wildlife services, especially with dwindling budgets. I am glad to see the growing number of academic and field ecologists and biologists finally speak out in kind. I hope this is a growing strength. We need more on the side of nature.

And for me, e non ho amato mai tanto la vita.

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posted by Macrobe
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1.01.2015,9:19 AM
Relative Theory of New Year's Day
The modern 'New Year's Day' is Jan. 1. The old Roman calendar's New Year was March 1. Chinese New Year is Feb 1. My New Year is June 1.

After two+ years of personal crap, and leaving Texas, last June 1 I was finally free and alive. To me, that's cause for my own private celebration.

Y'all have a good celebration. I'll celebrate next June 1.


posted by Macrobe
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12.26.2014,6:56 PM
Life on the Road

Most people think living on the road is lonely. To the contrary, it is not. Granted, the same friends and people do not surround me everyday. But that does not mean I have no friends. The truth is that I meet people from all around the country, even from around the globe, almost daily. And I always encounter a variety of wildlife, who are also my friends. They all enrich my life, more than when I lived in one place for too long a time.

Some people become anxious when they are away from their familiar surroundings. Intellectually I understand that, but don't share the emotion. Perhaps I share with birds and other animals that innate drive of migration. Like the wandering wolf, or the perpetually moving antelope.

I've always been a nomad. It's seems to be in my blood. Staying in one place too long is like a caged animal.

I must be free. And I am.

posted by Macrobe
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