Instead of a rant

28 09 2007

I started writing a rant today about my day job, subjected to annoying office gossip every Friday afternoon since I have a cubicle rather than an actual office like most of the people at my workplace. Once I started writing it, however, I decided that it was rather pointless and I don’t really want to write up something that’s essentially wasting space. Instead, enjoy this Fountains of Wayne (they hail from New Jersey, from a certain town that starts with a “W” I think…) song that sums things up rather nicely entitled “Hey Julie”;

And now that I think of it (and can’t think of much to write about at the moment), here’s some other music that’s been on my Shuffle as I’ve gone back and forth to class this week;

Ben Folds – “Bastard”

Weezer – “The Good Life”

Protest the Hero – “Heretics and Killers”

Thrice – “Deadbolt”

New Found Glory – “Failure’s Not Flattering”

The Living End – “Who’s Gonna Save Us?”

Bad Religion – “Honest Goodbye”

Those are the ones I could find videos for at least. Believe it or not, there was a time when I’d play guitar and focus on writing songs more than I read science books (or any books), and even though I still pick up my telecaster every now and then, I’ve somewhat outgrown my indie rockstar dreams. Still, maybe someday I’ll record some of the old songs I have lying around (although some updates to the lyrics would definitely be needed), and if I can I’ll upload some of my old demos when I get the chance.

Cool Animal Meme

27 09 2007

An interesting animal I had

Chase accompanying me on the couch

I’ve had a number of pets over the years (mostly lizards, frogs, and fish), but the most “interesting” animal I’ve ever kept is one of the cats that has been living in my apartment since this time last year. Born in 2000, Chase the cat was born to a feral mother but taken in by a large family who were friends of the woman who was later to become my wife. In 2005, when I came into the picture and visited the family now and then, I would find Chase and pet him for a little while, although it seemed Chase was a little neurotic. Eventually the family got a poodle, and the poodle decided it liked to play with Chase (I don’t think I need to tell you how Chase felt, being swatted at by a big black dog), and something had to change. So my wife and I took Chase in, but he’s definitely a strange cat . I’m the only person he is affectionate towards, so if his food bowl is empty while my wife is home he won’t let her know, but the moment I walk in the door he runs to his food bowl and starts crying. If you ever meet me, you’re likely to see little white hairs all over my clothes despite my best attempts to remove them, as well; Chase sheds nearly constantly, to the point where I wonder why he’s not bald by now. Chase also enjoys foods I didn’t think any cat liked; he’ll eat watermelon, grapes, and duct tape (although I’ve prevented this whenever he’s tried). He also licks windowsills for fun and likes to stand in front of the AC at night, but to prevent myself from going into a long post about my cat’s strange behavior Chase is definitely the most interesting animals I’ve ever had.

An interesting animal I ate

Do all the spiders I’ve probably eaten in my sleep count? My family was not especially interested in exotic dishes, so meat usually equaled chicken, turkey, or beef (sometimes fish). I did try escargot once, but the most interesting animal I’ve ever eaten will probably be a mystery to me (it was likely found inside a hot dog casing).

An interesting animal in the Museum

Just one? At the moment I would pick Amphicyon, one of the “bear dogs” of the Oligocene-Miocene (many being found in North America). I have another picture, which is unfortunately on another computer, of the skeleton caught in the light of a fading winter day, the light glinting off the teeth of the specimen pictured below. As some others have mentioned in previous comment threads, there’s little doubt that skeletal remains of this animal gives a few children nightmares.

The crushing jaws of Amphicyon.

An interesting thing I did with or to an animal

Two summers ago I went to Ocean City, Maryland with Tracey to go shark tagging. Although I was seasick for most of the trip, I did catch a juvenile Dusky Shark that I helped to tag and release. Hopefully I’ll have some more interesting animal encounters in the future that are a bit less traumatic for the creature.

An interesting animal in its natural habitat

I actually haven’t seen that many exciting animals in their “natural habitat.” Growing up in suburbia, squirrels, chickadees, white-tailed deer, and the occasional opossum or raccoon were the most I could hope for. Even now, most of the wildlife I photograph is confined to zoos, but I definitely want to see as many of the big cats as possible in the wild. Actually, one of my goals is to get to the Okovango Delta in Botswana, either to study or to merely photograph and observe, as I’m very much interested in how populations of animals there differ from populations elsewhere in Africa. Maybe someday…

I was tagged by Bora, and I tag Julia, Greg, Neil, Zach, and Kate (but feel free to pick it up if you wish to do so).

Recycling an old meme

25 09 2007

I’ve had this one in my pocket for a bit in case I wanted to write but couldn’t come up with anything original. Pass it along if you like…

If your life was a movie, what would the soundtrack be?
So, here’s how it works:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle/random
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that’s playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don’t lie!
*Optional: Add in a YouTube video or two (if there is one) for some of the songs, or even some sample lyrics to flesh things out a bit

Opening Credits
“The Waiting” – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Waking Up
“The Suffering” – Coheed & Cambria

First Day of School
“Fighting” – Yellowcard

Falling in Love
“Broken Heart” – Motion City Soundtrack

Fight Song
“Angels of the Silences” – Counting Crows

Breaking Up
“Superstition” – Stevie Wonder

“King of Wishful Thinking” – New Found Glory (originally by Go West)

“Kiss Me Deadly” – Reel Big Fish (originally by Lita Ford)

“Bad Moon Rising” – Creedence Clearwater Revival

“Gimme Some Money” – The Thamesmen (= Spinal Tap)

Getting Back Together
“Learning How to Smile” – Everclear

“Slide” – Goo Goo Dolls

“Baby Please Don’t Go” – Aerosmith (originally by Big Joe Williams)

Birth of a Child
“Just What I Needed” – The Cars

Final Battle
“Drones” – Rise Against

Funeral Song
“Gone” – Matt Nathanson

Ending Credits
“Nine Days” – Revolve

8 things about me[me] returns

23 09 2007

Mark, of The Divine Afflatus fame, is back, and upon the occasion of his triumphant return has tagged me with the “8 Random Facts” meme. Although I was tagged by Bora back in June, I figured I might as well give it another go, especially since I would hope that there are least 8 more things of potential interest about me.

1) My wife and I drove down to Haddonfield, NJ today to visit the site where Hadrosaurus foulkii was discovered. I’m planning an uber-post about it’s discovery so I won’t go into those details here, but I have to say I was extremely disappointed with the “park.” After driving about an hour, we made our way through the suburban sprawl to a dead end, a commemorative plaque plastered to a rock sitting right across the street from a newly-built house. Thinking there must be something more to see, Tracey and I made our way down the embankment to the fetid, mosquito-infested and trash-ridden streambed below. While the Cretaceous marl was easy to locate, the only thing of note we found was a discarded Sears credit card. Further exploration was blocked by vast pools of stagnant water and the fact that the “park” was a patch of land surrounded by private property, the monotonous whir of a nearby lawnmower letting us know we were practically in someone’s backyard. Rather unfitting, overall, for one of the most important sites in the history of paleontology.

2) I heard the New Found Glory cover of Go West’s “King of Wishful Thinking” yesterday and I can’t get it out of my head (trust me, the NFG version is much improved over the original). The song can be found on the band’s new album From the Screen to Your Stereo II.

3) Although I would have normally waited for the paperback, I purchased the newest Terry Pratchett book, Making Money on Friday and have been reading it aloud to my wife. Although we somewhat fell out of the tradition, for the first 6 months or so of our marriage I’d read some Terry Pratchett to her every night before bed.

4) When I was in preschool I once played a Stegosaurus pitched in battle with Allosaurus during the ever-popular “Dinosaur Night.” While I was expected to lose, at the close of the confrontation I pleaded my case to the parents on scientific grounds that Allosaurus wouldn’t dare try and take down such a large and spiny critter, but my protest ended up being in vain. At least I got some dinosaur-shaped cereal out of it. (My later high school stage appearances included Eugene in Grease!, Mr. Kraler in the Diary of Anne Frank, and Father Drobney in Don’t Drink the Water).

5) Many people once had imaginary friends, but I had an imaginary enemy. Named “Snuff,” he was a demonic, shortened version of Sesame Street’s Mr. Snuffleupagus, and if touched by his trunk you would become paralyzed (and subsequently eaten). You know that high pitched whine you sometimes hear when a television is on even if you can’t see it? I thought that was the sound of his impending arrival, and I once heard it while riding my tricycle in the driveway. I abandoned my vehicle, which my mother ran over while backing out of the driveway, and although I did get in a bit of trouble spare parts were found and all ended well.

6) During the last year of high school and the first years of college I used to frequent the local clubs, seeing a punk/emo/ska band just about every other weekend. The first show I ever went to was for a local group called Shades Apart (they had a song, “Stranger by the Day,” on the American Pie soundtrack), although they are long defunct. The place that I saw them and many other bands, The Birch Hill, was torn down a few years ago, and now most of the shows are at The Starland Ballroom (although I haven’t been there in at least a year and a half).

7) Up until recently I wanted to study marine ecology at Rutgers, specifically what was happening to sharks off the NJ coast (no one seemed to be studying it, given the funding cuts to the EPA, DEP, and Fish & Wildlife in the state). When I told one of my professors about this he replied “What are you ever going to do with that? No one studies sharks” (which was the entire point, from my perspective). Frustrated with the academic wall I kept running into, I ended up taking a course in paleontology & “evolution and geologic time,” which definitely helped establish my current line of interest. Overall, I think I’m better for it.

8 ) This blog, as you and I know it, will soon become extinct. I know I’m using on of the oldest tricks in the book and that I’m terrible because I’m going to leave you all hanging (at least for a little while), but some big changes will soon be going into effect. I think you all will be pleasantly surprised, but for now mum’s the word. In time all will be revealed, but I’ll still be writing regularly until I can divulge the secrets in my possession.

So there you have it, 8 little tidbits of information that may or may not have replaced something more important that you were supposed to remember (i.e. the location of the car keys). Everyone who immediately comes to mind as far as tagging goes has already been tagged previously, so I’ll leave this one open ended; if you feel compelled to write, just leave a comment and I’ll set up the links. And now to finish up the scraps of reading I have left over…

A day at the fair Faire

17 09 2007

Here are some of the aforementioned shots from the NY Renaissance Festival in Tuxedo, NY.


When we pulled in to the lot, we saw this oddly creepy dish. The set up of the area suggested that it may have once served as a small airport, but my friends and I had no idea what the dilapidated structure was used for.

Turkey Leg

It wouldn’t be a day at the Renaissance Festival without a huge turkey leg. My friend Victor poses with a drumstick of the cooked dinosaur descendant.

“All I said was the earth goes around the sun…” My friend Tim, to the right, was locked up for taking a few too many hits off his flagon of mead and making a spectacle of himself.


The loathsome Sheriff of Nottingham, victim of a vicious pie-fight.

Evil Witch

An evil witch takes control of a “pawn” during a rather unorthodox human chess game.

Robin Hood

Robin Hood strikes a pose.

Robin Hood fights the Sheriff


Observing the joust from atop a rock, sporting my spiffy new Skulls Unlimited t-shirt.


Tim and the Wenches

Tim being fawned over by the Singing Wenches. Never have I heard so many bawdy rhymes (well, other than some of the hip hop blasting out of souped-up Honda Civics along College Ave.)


Sunset, taken from the passenger seat of Victor’s car as we drove along the Pulaski Skyway just outside of Hoboken.

bea and charlotte

And for no reason, here are my cats Charlotte (the ‘lil black one) and Beatrice (the larger one, and she still needs a good home…).

If I had known I would have baked a cake….

31 08 2007

Blog Day 2007

Happy Blog Day everyone! This is the 3rd annual celebration, and in keeping with the wishes set forth by those who’ve spread the word, I’ve picked five blogs that I regularly read and think you should, too. I was quite surprised to have been chosen as one of the five over at A Blog Around the Clock (thanks Coturnix!), and I’m going to carry on the meme in quite the same way by picking 5 of my favorites instead of just 5 “new” blogs. Envelope please…

Catalogue of Organisms – Chris admittedly has “An inordinate fondness for systematics,” and a wide range of interests that would have made E.D. Cope and other earlier naturalists proud. His posts are always well documented and researched, and it’s hard not to learn something new on any given visit. Plus, he was nice enough to tag me with the Thinking Blogger Award for a second time, so this is my way of saying “Thanks!”

Clastic Detritus – Brian is another good friend of mine who, in addition to just acquiring a spiffy new title and moving to wordpress, is the father of the new earth sciences blog carnival The Accretionary Wedge. He is far more well-versed in geology than I could ever hope to be, and I am glad that he is helping to lead the charge to get geo-bloggers more involved on the web.

Prehistoric Pulp – Walt reads ’em so you don’t have to, or rather, Walt reads ’em so you know which ones actually are pretty good so you know where to turn when you’re in the mood for some good paleo-fiction. Walt’s knowledge of the monsters (real and imagined) lurking in the pages of recent literature is encyclopedic, and his is a wonderful and well-written resource.

Thoughts in a Haystack – And I thought I spent a lot of time trying to understand the history of science. I have only recently discovered John’s blog, but it is an absolute treat to read and his writing is brimming with careful research, measured opinion, and an excellent sense of humor. If you’re not reading Thoughts in a Haystack yet, you darn well should be.

The Ethical Paleontologist – Where would I be without Julia? Outside of directing me to other people extremely helpful in my fields and interest and providing plenty of encouragement, Julia writes an excellent blog that ranges from her “Jurassic Garden” to songs about dinosaurs to her current journey to get her PhD. Her blog, simply put, is a must-read.

Also of note: My friend Zach’s blog When Pigs Fly Returns (if for no other reason that his excellent reconstruction of Arizonasaurus, and Pondering Pikaia, which was duly recommended by Coturnix and will likely be on many more lists.

So what are your five commendations for your readers? You can read all the “official rules” at the Blog Day website, but be sure to add a description as to why each of the blogs is so good. Go on, boost some egos and endorse good blogging wherever you may find it.

[Blog Day Technorati Tag]

Friday Meme #1

24 08 2007

Stolen from Molly’s blog (feel free to jump on in!);

Three things in my fridge that define life right now:
1) A jar of Klausen pickle juice, once having contained actual pickles. There are never enough pickles…
2) Watered down 4C Raspberry Iced Tea from powder. I always am liberal with the stuff and then there are all of 4 and 1/2 scoops left (it takes at least 8 for the pitcher), and which point a semi-sweet watery drink often results.
3) Half a carton of eggs, because occasionally at 11 at night I get in the mood for a good fry-up (basic recipe: throw a few strips of bacon, a few eggs, some chopped onions, and a slice of American or Monterey Jack cheese in a pan, cook, slide gooey mess onto plate and enjoy).

Three recent acquisitions:
Erm, outside of books I don’t really buy many things other than gasoline or food. Three books (out of four) that I just ordered yesterday are Dumbing Down: Essays on the Strip Mining of American Culture, The Velvet Claw: A Natural History of the Carnivores, and Buffon’s Natural History Of Man, The Globe And Of Quadrapeds, With Additions from Cuvier, Lacipede, and Other Eminent Naturalists.

Three classics I reach for every day:
1) Cherry Coke, when available (even though the current graphics on the can are a bit lame. I saw bring back the black & purple can days)
2) Something by Terry Pratchett. When I’m not reading about science, I’m usually reading about Rincewind or other Discworld characters.
3) My 1991 Chevrolet Cavalier.

My kids right now, in three words or less:
Charlotte: Troublemaker
Chase: Myopic
Beatrice: Acrobat

My sweetie right now, in three words or less:

What’s on my to-do list:
Clean up the desk, finish my uber-post on whales, finish the book I’m reading tonight, write more of my book, print out/read more papers, try to find an affordable desktop computer, get car inspected (it’s only a month overdue…), visit the Philly Zoo before it gets cold, beg and plead with the administration at RU to switch major (it’s not going to be easy), make sure I remember when classes start, etc.

What I do often that relates to the season right now:
This has actually been a rather crummy summer, but just this morning I got up early enough that the light and humidity were just right to make me think I was in Florida, a state I much prefer to NJ (especially since fall and winter are on their way).

What I’m listening to right now:
I actually used to rush out every Tuesday and buy the two or three new punk/emo/indie/ska releases that came out and I had more new music than I knew what to do with. At the present point, though, I don’t remember the last new (or used, for that matter) CD I bought, and I mostly just rifle through mix cd’s I’ve made. Currently I’m in a bit of a 90’s mood though (and end up having the chorus from Marcy Playground’s “Sex and Candy” stuck in my head for days as a result). This time of year always makes me think about the Nine Days album The Madding Crowd, though, which is a great piece of pop rock for those so inclined.

What I’m worried about right now:
Lack of money now that I can’t work full time, passing Precalc, transferring into a major I like (otherwise being stuck just trying to survive one I’ve lost passion for), dealing with debt, and just about anything dealing with school or money.

Which news stories I’m following right now:
It’s not “real” news, but the hubbub surrounding Expelled is interesting.

What I’m reading right now:
Tonight I’ll finish Where Darwin Meets the Bible, then I’ll finish Theories of Human Evolution: A Century of Debate 1844-1944, and then I hope to read The Descent of the Child and Man Rises to Parnassus before the weekend is out. Altogether it’s about 600 pages of reading, but I think I can do it.

What I’m looking forward to right now:
Um… I don’t really know. There isn’t much coming up that’s particularly exciting as far as I know.

A thought I keep returning to right now:
I’m probably stuck in a academic black hole where I no longer like the program for my major at my school but it’s too late to change. Get ready for disappointment…

One small thing that’s making me happy right now:

This blog, and waking up in the morning to see good comments made by friends I’ve made through spilling my thoughts out here every now and then.