Posts in Category: Life in General

Father’s Day

Posted Jul 5th, 2009 at 9:49 am in Life in General, Photography | 3 Comments

This is a belated father’s day post, which I had been meaning to put up since, well, Father’s Day. We spent the day in Abilene and had a great time. Of course I brought the camera and have an album of pictures. I got several great shots of Dad. As always, click an image for a larger version in the gallery.

My Favorite Shot of the Day

Perhaps my favorite shot of the day was a reflection of Dad that I capture in a pair of metal serving spoons as he cleaned the dishes. Now I realize that no matter how I write this, I come across as an awful son. But seriously, Amy and I cooked, cleaned, and helped throughout the day. I just grabbed the camera a few times as the opportunities presented themselves, and I was helping in the kitchen when I noticed the reflection. (Hmmm, let me re-read that last sentence… Dad is cleaning dishes while I took a picture. Yep, I still sound like a jerk.)

Dad's reflection in a spoon

The Best Shot of the Day

I also grabbed the following candid shot. The funny thing was that we were talking about cameras and I took some pictures just to show how some settings work. I wasn’t planning on actually getting a good one.

Dad

Finally, the Funniest Shot of the Day

I had been trying to get a picture of Dad as he was unpacking the box. Frustratingly, I couldn’t be fast enough to get his face as he stood up from the box. Finally in frustration, I said “Be a gopher!”. He cooperated and popped up from behind the box. The picture is priceless!

Be a Gopher

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Dusting Off the Covers

Posted Dec 8th, 2008 at 9:53 pm in Life in General, Site Announcements | Comments Off

I want to start using this site again. But instead of providing commentary on the culture wars surrounding evolution, I’m going to simply provide commentary on me. I’m going to use this site as a place to post write-ups and pictures from my various travels.

Hmmm. That sounds familiar.  Perhaps because I wrote almost exactly the same thing on March 29, 2007. I’ll quote myself.

Why did I stop blogging?

The short and sweet answer is that I suddenly got tired of it. It felt more like a chore than it did fun. As the amount of time I poured into school skyrocketed (and so did the amount of writing for school), it was hard to enjoy blogging.

I’m also completely done with these eternal debates about evolution and creationism. At least online anyway. Like the above comments shows, the number of people who froth at the mouth and show up to leave comments far outweighs those interested in learning how science works. We live in the age of Google. In 30 seconds you can get more information about a subject than you can read in 30 days. An understanding of evolution and how it works is not lacking because of a lack of information. Therefore, I’m much more interested in having real conversions with people, face to face, who actually want to learn how things work, not just argue. The time I’ve spent at church talking with people about it on a number of occasions is just so much more fulfilling than blogging about it.

I also face the problem of being a fairly good but extremely slow writer. One story in particular illustrates this better than anything. Not long after we got married, my wife was working on this very lengthy paper for a class. She called me in to ask for help with wording a single sentence. I spent 30 minutes and finally came up with wording that we both liked. So out of 10 pages, I wrote one sentence. When she got the paper back (with a good grade of course), the professor had underline that single sentence and written in the margins, “Nicely worded!” (I’ll smile about that for the rest of my life). But the problem you see is that I can’t spend that long writing a post to Ocellated. There’s not enough hours in the day.

So what’s different this time?

Nothing if I don’t keep posting. But after amassing lots of good pictures, having many excellent adventures, and a likely move within the year to start a doctorate, I really would enjoy a place to share these experiences.

A really cool new way to view pictures

One last word before I put up new pictures. You can now view pictures in the photo gallery using Cooliris. Never heard of it? Follow that link for a flash animation of how it works. It’s a free FireFox plugin (you’re using FireFox, right?) that allows you to view images from the web in a very compelling way. I often use it to search for images with Google and now it works with my own photo gallery.

Once you install Cooliris, visit any of my albums or pictures in the photo gallery and then launch the program. I recommend clicking on the first image to enlarge it, and then using the down arrow to go through the images one by one. This way, you can see the image titles with the images. (You can also view the images full screen or as a slide show, but the title disappear.)

To make the experience even better in Cooliris, I’m going to start uploading larger images in the albums. These larger images will only be visible when in Coolirs, and while you can still view older albums with this tool, the pictures get stretched and may look a little grainy.

Finally, if you’re on a slow connection, you might want to view images just on the website (and not with Cooliris) so they’ll download quickly.

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Oh Ocellated, Where Art Thou?

Posted Aug 8th, 2006 at 10:53 am in Life in General, Photography | 8 Comments

Several readers have emailed me to ask, “What’s going on? Why no posts?” While I’ve been a little busy, the truth is, I’ve gotten something which gives blogging a little competition for my loyalty.

Canon EOS 30d with 100-400 zoom lens

This is a Canon EOS 30D digital SLR with Canon’s EF 100-400mm f4.5/5.6 telephoto lens (for those that care about the equipment). For those that don’t, let’s just explain it this way. It’s a camera that can take pictures really fast (5 shots a second) and makes things big with the lens.

It can produce pictures like this…

Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

I’ve put up some of my initial shots in the gallery for your enjoyment. With the new camera, you can expect to see more wildlife shots, especially of birds. I’ve also increased the size of the pictures in the gallery, to better showcase my work*.

These initial shots are just that — initial. I’m still trying to learn a lot about photography with a camera such as this, and expect that my pictures will only get better as I become more comfortable and experienced with the camera.

Also, real blogging will resume shortly… Thanks for your patience in allowing me to take this break.

* People running low screen resolutions (like 800×600) may not be able to see all of a portrait shot without scrolling. The vast majority of monitors on computers sold within the last few years support a minimum resolution of 1024×768, so if you don’t like the bigger pictures, you might increase your resolution.

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One Year Ago Today…

Posted Jul 30th, 2006 at 7:03 am in Life in General | 3 Comments

… I walked down the aisle.

wedding

It has been quite the year. I’ve learned so much I hardly know where to begin. And yet I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface.

I’ll start with how we met. The day was August 27, 2004. My roommate liked her roommate. He couldn’t do the creepy thing and invite a girl over that he barely knew, so in addition to her, he invited her roommate, a couple of their friends, the girls across the street, and a few guys all to watch a movie at our place. It was all very casual. I learned about it that afternoon when he told that “a bunch of girls” were coming over to watch a movie. I’d long since given up on meeting a girl, having just graduated from a Christian university where some in the student body might think singleness is sinfulness, and still managing to not get married. (Which I’m quite proud of, by the way). Still, what guy wouldn’t love to have his future wife walk in through the front door of his living room?

We all stood around in a circle and played two truths and a lie. On the first go round, I told three truths by accident. The most awkward moment came when the subject turned to painting and decorating rooms, and I mentioned that I had just painted my room bright red and asked if anyone wanted to see it. Amy immediately said yes, but no one else did, leaving both us quite uncomfortable. (I especially since I didn’t want to be creepy — which, in hindsight the whole “do you want to see my room” line might not have been such a good idea.) One of her friends came to the rescue by saying yes too, and we both breathed a sigh of relief.

During the movie (which was really nothing that special), we just happened to sit next to each other on a small couch off to the side. Now here’s where I’m going to let you in on a little secret… If you ask my wife what happened next, she’ll tell you a lie. She’ll swear that I scooted closer to her first. Don’t believe a word of it. I wasn’t that brave. I was watching her out of the corner of my eye (she was a lot prettier than Tom Cruise after all) looking for any sign that she liked me. I saw it all very clearly. She scooted closer first. Emboldened, I scooted towards her too. As the movie progressed, the distance between us decreased. Here’s pretty much what it looked like.

meeting my wife

Now for clarification, it should be noted that when distance apart = 0, that was the distance between our shoulders. She wasn’t sitting in my lap.

So about marriage itself… To begin with, I’ve learned that marriage is harder but better. No longer is the question you. It’s now us. And sometimes us means sacrifice or compromise. Even after a year, this changes you. I think it makes you a better person. It’s not always easy. In fact, at times, it can be downright maddening. But it’s always good. In this sense, marriage is one of the most spiritual things I’ve ever experienced. (And this from a person who gets the heebie-jeebies when it comes to people loudly claiming that this or that is spiritual). My whole understanding of what it means to both love and be loved took on a deeper meaning when I got married, and in ways that I can’t really explain, this has translated profoundly into my understanding of what love is, as it relates to my Christian faith.

Having a best friend to share life with is very satisfying too. Making plans for the future, coming home everyday to someone who’s happy to see you, and even facing the challenges that come your way. It’s all better married.

Yet in this regard I am profoundly sensitive. We’ve both known people who, upon getting married, suddenly act as if they’re on a different plane than those single people. As if single were a bad word or something. We’ve tried very hard to not be that married couple that can only hang out with married people, and who acts as if we’ve received some special revelation from God about the nature of life, just because we’re now married. I’ve seen this sort of arrogance or insensitivity first hand with friends, and we’ve been determined not to fall into its trap. But the reason this trap is seductive is because it’s exciting getting married, and it’s easy to let that excitement make you a little blind to those around you.

Mainly though, I’m honored to be married to such a great women. I can definitely say that I married “up” and am a better person for it. On the other hand, if you ask my wife on her perspective, though I’m sure she would say nice things about me, the truth is it might look a little something like this.

All I can say is “thanks, honey.” One down, a lifetime to go.

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Let Me Share This Funny Story

Posted Jul 25th, 2006 at 3:33 pm in Humor, Life in General, School | 1 Comment

If you’ll indulge me, I have quite a story to share. It’s about life and what we want from life. It’s about what we find important, what we really value, and what we’ll do without in order to get it.

My wife is a waitress this summer. The other day at work, she had a table that was particularly annoying. The moment they walked in, a man in the party did something so bizarre, so shocking, it defies belief. Because it’s the punch line of the story, I’m going to save it till the end. So you’ll have to read the whole post (or just skip to the bottom) to find out what happened…

Now my wife is very slow to get angry. It’s almost annoying how nice, tolerant, and mild mannered she is! But even she has her limits, and they were met and exceeded with this table.

To set the scene, it was a table with an older couple. They quickly became frustrated with the menu. They were trying to order the senior special, but complaining endlessly that the options weren’t comparable to the full menu. Perhaps they had a point. In offering an unequal menu for the seniors, perhaps society was unappreciative of their great contributions. The senior meals come with fries, which separately cost $2.50. Yet they could substitute only one order of vegetables, worth a mere $0.75. “Why the discrepancy?,” the gentlemen wanted to know. Indeed, a great injustice may have been occurring.

But an injustice at my wife’s hands it was not. Seemingly oblivious to the fact that she serves the food rather than makes the menu, they bitterly complained. My poor wife had to finally throw down the gauntlet. “I’m really sorry that your upset, but I don’t make the menu and have no control over these decisions. You can order a regular meal and get what you want, or the senior meal for the reduced price.”

Once the food was out of the way, the real point of contention surfaced. They asked friendly enough personal questions — Where are you from? What are you doing? Oh you’re married? What’s you husband doing? — etc. Friendly enough, that is, until they bluntly decided to share what they thought of our plans…

My wife wants to be an elementary teacher and I a college professor. “Are you independently wealthy?” the women asked with an incredulous scowl upon her face. “How do you expect to pay for any of this?

My wife tried explaining that since you spend most of your adult life at work, we felt it was important to pursue things we were passionate about. That when the day was done and our lives were lived, we would be far happier with a job we cared about than a job we didn’t but which paid us more. This seemed to be lost on them, and they continued insulting her for being so stupid as to help support a husband in grad school. With the excuse of “other customers” my wife walked off, a wee bit ticked off.

So, what’s the surprise waiting for you at the end of the post? The punch line of it all? Well get this. When they walked in, the man had a tape measure. He required at least 14 inches in between the booth and the table to accommodate his stomach. His wife also required the same. And he measured to ensure that he had it.

Yes indeed. When times are tough, and I reflect on the decisions I’ve made in life and the endeavors I’ve decided to pursue, I’ll surely think back to this guy and his wife, squabbling over a few cents on a senior meal, and measuring their booths to make room for their stomachs. And I’ll reflect on the life I never had.

Something tells me I won’t miss it very much.

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Even Biologists Need A Break

Posted Jun 9th, 2006 at 12:30 pm in Life in General | Comments Off

It’s not so much that I’m tired of nature, but that I’m just tired generally, and in particular, I miss my wife. I’m running home for a few days. I’ll be back soon enough, with lots of great pictures from week 4.

When Your Tent’s A Tumbleweed

Posted Jun 7th, 2006 at 2:51 pm in Birding, Life in General | Comments Off

Sorry for the lack of communication lately. Though I’ve been busy, the internet connection has been on the fritz lately, making updates darned near impossible. I’ll provide a brief personal update, before moving on to other, more interesting topics.

My parents came out this weekend. A good time was had by all. Mom and I found Flammulated Owl, one of the birds I had most hoped to find in my spare time here.

I’ve also moved out of the McIvor Center, at least at night, as the Center for Big Bend Studies from Sul Ross University is doing an archeological study in a cave on the preserve. I’m now sleeping in my tent.

Speaking of which, I had the funniest experience yesterday. While talking to the cook, she suddenly pointed outside and I turned around to see my tent blowing across the ground like a tumbleweed, end over end. Normally I stake the tent down, but I had a bunch of stuff inside (sleeping bag, ground pad, sheets and blankets — probably 15 pounds worth), and I figured it wouldn’t go anywhere. In fact, it had been there all day without a problem. I hit the door running like a jackrabbit crossing the highway to catch it. I was scared to look inside, as predictably, it looked like a tornado had rearranged my stuff.

What Can I Say, I’m a Man of Good Taste

Posted May 8th, 2006 at 12:07 pm in Life in General | 4 Comments

As a budding ornithologist, I still deeply appreciate the the diversity across nature in groups other than birds. That’s why I couldn’t resist buying this shirt, which was produced for the Texas Society of Mammalogists most recent meeting. (My major professor, an ornithologist himself, even did the artwork). I needed some added diversity to go along with my dozen or more bird shirts.

TSM Phyllostomid Bat T-shirt

It’s a Phyllostomid (leaf-nosed) bat. This new world family has the honor of having the most diverse feeding niches of any mammalian family. There are Phyllostomids which eat insects, fruits, blood, nectar, birds and other bats, frogs, fish, and probably something else I’m forgetting.

Now while the shirt was only $10 dollars, I’ve set a dangerous precedent here. When my wife learns that I’ve bought new clothes, I’m going to have a hard time convincing her that we really don’t have the money for new threads for her too. This beautiful and almost perfect women has ripped the closet rod off the wall twice this semester, due to the sheer weight of her existing wardrobe.

Still, I’m not sure if these arguments will be convincing. I may have to make a compromise.

Honey, I tell you what. I will gladly agree that you too can buy a Phyllostomid T-shirt, wherever you may find them, for approximately $10.

This marriage thing is great. It’s all about compromise and anticipating each other needs and wants. I’m glad I’ve got it figured out so well.

Am I In a Third World Country?

Posted Apr 26th, 2006 at 2:28 pm in Life in General | Comments Off

I had the oddest experience today. Coming home from school, I saw an older Asian women, traditionally dressed in a skirt with a scarf over her head. She was at the edge of a front yard, scooping water with a bowl out of the gutter and into a bucket… There are very few Asian people in this west Texas town. To see a women gathering water in this way is a first.

When I came home, my apartment once again was without water. For reasons unfathomable to me, they seem to have it turned off every few weeks for maintenance of some kind or another.

Oh well. I have a bowl.

I and the Bird, I and the Break

Posted Apr 13th, 2006 at 10:45 am in Birding, Life in General | 2 Comments

It’s crunch time. I’ll be busy the next few days finishing a paper on interspecific territoriality and convergent evolution. (No need to ask, I plan on posting about this interesting idea). So, I’ll be taking a little break from blogging.

In the meantime, the lastest edition of I and the Bird is up. (For those unaccustomed to blogging carnivals, follow the link for an explanation).

Yours truly is included for my post on mockingbirds trying to kill blind people.

Here are my favorites from the carnival, in case you don’t want to wade through them all.

Living the Scientific Life posts this article on the new species of parrot and mouse discovered from the Phillipines. The parrot is one sharp looking bird.

Bill Thompson posts about his first encounter with Pale-billed Woodpecker. What’s so cool about his post is that he actually took pictures of both Pale-billed and Lineated Woodpeckers. I left him a comment on identifying the two.

A lady out in Tucson put up pictures of a Curve-billed Thrasher building a nest. It’s all about the location.

And finally, if you think posts about backyard birding are boring, you should try reading backyard birding posts from other countries. They assuredly are not boring, unless of course you’re from that country.

I’ll reemerge from my hole in a few days.