Category: oh hey it’s my autobiography

Regular

mossworm:

I cannot stress enough that you do not need a degree to become a naturalist / discover new species… you just need to care about living things and have a passion for them. Going to college just gets you closer to good resources (museum collections and career biologists) but you do not NEED a degree to access either of those things. 

It can be useful to get one if you can! But you do not NEED one and there is no time limit for getting one.

FYI to all my followers: I am not a “real” entomologist

I went to college and have a masters degree… in engineering.

I have never taken any course in animal biology, taxonomy, let alone entomology.

Everything I know about nature and wildlife, I learned by myself because I was interested in these topics. I went out on guided hikes the state parks put on with experts, and I made connections with people who had gone to college and studied wildlife biology.

I raised moth and butterfly eggs I found in my yard, sometimes hatching parasites instead. I reached out to people online through bugguide forums and via iNaturalist, and got to submit parasitic wasps that hadn’t yet been documented in Io moth eggs, to the entomologist at Texas A&M University who was revising the genus they were in—before I could have told you the difference between an assassin bug and a leaf-footed bug. I raised stick insects I found in my yard, and ended up shipping some to a real entomologist who had never photographed the species, and needed one for a field guide he is writing.

You will be amazed what resources you have available to you if you just ask. Lamenting your lack of access to museum specimens in the back storage areas? Contact the curator for your area of interest at your local museum, explain you are an amateur x-ologist, and you are interested in studying y species. Is there a time you could arrange to view the collections? THEY WILL SAY YES!!!! You’re a high school student, worried they won’t take you seriously? EVEN BETTER, THEY WILL LOVE YOU!!! Aim for a university collection if there is one nearby.

College is great if that’s your thing, but it won’t make you a naturalist. You will make you a naturalist.

June 27, 2019

Regular

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

Art Heist

I have no idea which blog to put this in, so you’re welcome in advance.

My brother and I talk to each other approximately once or twice a year. Quality over quantity, you get the idea. We’re only three years apart, and our sense of humor and love for terrible things is identical. For example, we amused ourselves for years by reliving each other’s epic earwax stories (he won—I may have needed medical intervention for a pea-size blockage, but he had a photo that required a coin for a sense of scale).

Anyways, when I randomly got a text message from him out of nowhere yesterday, I knew it was going to be good.

That’s right

This beauty. I must have it. This must be mine.

My brother’s texts reappeared again today (amazing, two days in a row! We are truly up to something!), and he had talked to the curator for the art show at his work regarding the price of the piece.

The dimensions, first off:

36 inches tall by 48 inches wide

That is: 3 feet tall by 4 feet wide

Yes

The price is set at $900. For an original masterpiece? Of such magnitude? I HAVE to have it. This won’t be for sale for a year, that is plenty of time to justify spending $900 for a one-of-a-kind original artwork that transcends species barriers like this.

So I am currently attempting to intimidate the artist, via the curator, with my (super timid) brother acting as an intermediary, into agreeing to sell the painting to me after the show ends in a year, when I can have it shipped from Seattle to Texas, and have it form the centerpiece of my Disturbing Bird Art Wall, because I’ve got plenty of bird art, but oh boy it would all take on a new perspective with this in the center.

Stay tuned (?!)

May 30, 2019

WE HAVE A NAME

Tammie Dupuis! [link to website]

And our piece? Which we love? IS PART OF A SERIES!!!!

AND MORE! 

Let’s show some love!
Instagram: tammie.dupuis [link]
facebook: Dupuis Creative [link]

June 3, 2019

Lol @lexiellama okay:

It’s a long story, but I acquired this painting over 10 tears ago, and fought over this painting too (it had been abandoned by its previous owner). I slept with it next to my bed for a while.

For a while, every time I look at it, something in it had changed.

Y’all know how I can find a microscopic caterpillar from a mile away? I notice details.

They’ve gotta be haunted. At the time, I had a bunch of pet rabbits. They have all left me, but I like to think they’re haunting me through this damn painting (which is terrible and which I love immensely). Probably the only material possession I am more attached to than this painting is the unpainted ceramic snail I bought 17 years ago, and haven’t painted because it’s too perfect and I’m not ready to shoulder that burden.

June 4, 2019

Regular

mudwomb:

gays do me a solid and rb with tattoos you have or want in the tags

Time for crab!

There’s another one on the other side.

Yes. I have crabs. I drove from Seattle to Florida to meet an internet friend back in 2006 (and also to get away from a terrible roommate), and saw these adorable swimming crabs. I didn’t tell anybody I was dating at the time about them, so I got to do a serious, “I need to talk to you… I got crabs while I was in Florida…” prank MULTIPLE TIMES IT WAS HILARIOUS omg worth it

Kids, don’t let anyone make you think you have to grow up. You can be weird and immature forever.

June 2, 2019

Regular

Art Heist

I have no idea which blog to put this in, so you’re welcome in advance.

My brother and I talk to each other approximately once or twice a year. Quality over quantity, you get the idea. We’re only three years apart, and our sense of humor and love for terrible things is identical. For example, we amused ourselves for years by reliving each other’s epic earwax stories (he won—I may have needed medical intervention for a pea-size blockage, but he had a photo that required a coin for a sense of scale).

Anyways, when I randomly got a text message from him out of nowhere yesterday, I knew it was going to be good.

That’s right

This beauty. I must have it. This must be mine.

My brother’s texts reappeared again today (amazing, two days in a row! We are truly up to something!), and he had talked to the curator for the art show at his work regarding the price of the piece.

The dimensions, first off:

36 inches tall by 48 inches wide

That is: 3 feet tall by 4 feet wide

Yes

The price is set at $900. For an original masterpiece? Of such magnitude? I HAVE to have it. This won’t be for sale for a year, that is plenty of time to justify spending $900 for a one-of-a-kind original artwork that transcends species barriers like this.

So I am currently attempting to intimidate the artist, via the curator, with my (super timid) brother acting as an intermediary, into agreeing to sell the painting to me after the show ends in a year, when I can have it shipped from Seattle to Texas, and have it form the centerpiece of my Disturbing Bird Art Wall, because I’ve got plenty of bird art, but oh boy it would all take on a new perspective with this in the center.

Stay tuned (?!)

May 30, 2019

Regular

underthehedge:

apenvssword:

systlin:

unique-and-just-like-the-others:

punksatanic:

itsursoyboye:

despazito:

despazito:

vegans who refuse to even eat backyard eggs….why

people who think its unethical to eat chicken eggs are like people who think bees should keep all their honey. they literally produce more than they need and your unwillingness to even buy local means you are doing nothing to help them, support your small farmers you heathens

I don’t usually get involved in vegan discourse but as far as honey goes they stress the hive into overproduction and regularly kill off the worker bees to get the queen to produce more. The bees they use to pollinate are trucked out to crops, they’re not the same ones producing honey. The egg thing is about how much stress it puts on chickens to produce, people who keep pet chickens usually have vets implant artificial eggs into the chicken so it’s not putting so much stress on the chicken’s body. That being said I eat honey. I don’t think we should go after people trying to prevent cruelty, we should look harder at mass farming practices and stop pointing fingers at each other.

I’m glad someone said it because I didnt know how to

OK, but do all local beekeepers stress their bees into overproduction? I understand if this is the mass production method, but is it also the backyard beekeeper method?

….that is literally not how it works at all.

You can’t ‘stress bees into overproduction’. If bees are stressed, they won’t produce. And will probably die, tbh. Or at least get sick far more easily, and then die.

The only way you get excess honey from bees is if you keep them somewhere where they’re happy and have lots of forage. Some commercial beekeepers will take the honey and feed back sugar water, which is unethical and no, backyard beekeepers like myself don’t do that. 

But you literally cannot stress bees into overproduction. Bees just. Like. They don’t have an ‘off’ switch. They gather nectar and pollen and bring it back to the hive. That’s what they do. They don’t take days off or vacations. They forage every day until they die. That’s hardwired into their behavior by millions of years of evolution. I’m not out there yelling at them to get up and get at it; they start foraging at first light and continue until dusk, every day. That’s what they do. That’s what evolution has coded into their genes and behavior.

So they will forage and store honey and pollen forever, so long as they have forage. They don’t reach a point where they go ‘oh hey we have enough to survive the winter, we can stop now.’ They just keep going.

What stresses bees is not being able to forage or not having enough forage. And that hardly leads to them making honey. The opposite, rather; they then have to survive off their stored reserves.

“The egg thing is about how much stress it puts on chickens to produce, people who keep pet chickens usually have vets implant artificial eggs into the chicken so it’s not putting so much stress on the chicken’s body.” – itsursoyboye

Chickens naturally produce eggs while they are fertile. If you implanted an artificial egg into a chicken you’d hurt it. They also don’t really have an off switch, the only time a hen doesn’t lay is when she doesn’t have everything she needs to produce the egg.

As for artificial eggs…you may see people giving chickens ceramic eggs, or something similarly shaped but that is only if a chicken is feeling like she wants to be a mom and you don’t want more chickens.

Ceramic and rubber eggs are also used when you have some arseholes chickens that have realised eggs are delicious to eat too. Making sure you collect eggs early and leave inedible bouncy/hard eggs in the nest usually teaches them not to bother…

*yet another massive sigh re: original post*

Y’all, I try to be loving and accepting of everybody and I also try to keep this blog relatively free of swearing because *handwaves* professional *more handwaves* is generally a good thing to do with diverse audience, etc.

But I’ve spoken on this general topic before and I’m going to do it again.

What the fuck gives you the right to (1) put words in my mouth (2) decide what I should/should not do with my body?

I love small farmers and I support them. I love my friends who raise backyard chickens (and I love the chickens). I have no ethical issues with eating eggs from said chickens.

But I’m not going to do it. And my reasons for doing so are none of anybody’s goddamn business.

If you weren’t around for previous rants, I eat honey, I wear leather and wool, I feed my cats meat, and all those jerkoffs going on non-sequitor pseudo-intellectual holier-than-thou monologues about synthetic fabrics and how vegans are destroying the environment via polyester need to stfu because (newsflash), almost all your clothes are synthetic blends.

I GET that it’s still acceptable to shit on vegans because of the obnoxious asswipes that call themselves vegan and police everybody else’s behavior (for the record, the peta assholes are not vegan and everybody hates them).

But remember some of those vegans you’re shitting on have been getting mercilessly bullied for what they personally chose not to eat starting 25 years ago, despite their best attempts to keep their dietary habits a secret because it’s not fun to have meat thrown at you in school when you’re a little kid with panic attacks and OCD-esque contamination issues when you touch meat 👍.

All I want to do is share my love of nature and science and bugs (INCLUDING THOSE COOL BUG SNACKS AT THAT ASIAN GROCERY, REMEMBER THOSE?????? DO YOU THINK THEY WERE VEGAN????), but wtf peeps I can’t even come to this blue hellsite without getting told that I feel a certain way and getting criticized for it??? Not cool, do better.

Vegans are not some theoretical enemy that exist off of this platform. I’m right here, I see these posts, I have had to unfollow people I would otherwise really like to stay connected to because of the rabid anti-vegan sentiment (why???), and … all of these posts, which are literally about me … are wrong.

Anyways, that’s my rant for now, I guess I should get back to posting bugs or something.

Me in 2013 attempting to liberate some backyard chickens kept under cruelly inhumane conditions, the horror

May 18, 2019

Arge scapularis – Elm Argid Sawfly ——- Blog’…

Arge scapularis – Elm Argid Sawfly

——-

Blog’s been on a bit of a hiatus… turns out after spending 10+ hours straight rewriting my resume for the 100th time, the last thing I want to deal with is tumblr deleting thoughtful posts I poured my heart and soul into. I’ve been updating my facebook page (nanonaturalist on there, too) more regularly, which isn’t much more than photos with brief captions.

Job hunting is more demoralizing than I ever could have anticipated. I would have had an offer in April but the position was “placed on hold.” I’m not getting called back for interviews. I can’t make plans because I need to keep my schedule open just in case I do get a call. Road trips are out of the question (what gas money???), I have to cancel all my outreach and bioblitz plans (I didn’t do City Nature Challenge this year…). The only plus side is I’m catching more yard birds because I never leave my house.

As much as I wish it weren’t the case, the job hunt is the only thing I have time for right now. I’m at Week 11 of unemployment, and the longer you are out of work, the less likely you are to get hired (because most hiring managers are privileged assholes).

Really, I meant it when I said it on a previous post: do not move to Austin thinking you can find a job. You can’t. I struck up a conversation with somebody at the park on Sunday who had been unemployed for four months. Degree in marketing. Work experience in real estate marketing. Couldn’t find a single job in four months in the fastest growing city in the US with an enormous real estate market. She found a job she’s starting this week—on craigslist.

Enough whining for now, back to resumepalooza 🙄

May 14, 2019

It’s like I’m a real writer now

Oh boy. I don’t half-ass things. Apparently that includes coming out of the HEY GUYS I’M AUTISTIC closet. Which I did earlier this week. In a nature magazine. They did a feature on birders with disabilities, and wanted to get a written piece from a birder with autism. And I was like *waves arms furiously*. (Because it paid and I’m unemployed right now)

image

A 200 word limit is VERY SHORT for an essay, holy carp. But the web piece will be longer (it’s not out yet). Do you like my kinglet?! I took that picture!

Anyway, this is a tiny little essay tucked into some obscure nature magazine nobody reads, right?

*cough*

image

Well, what are the odds that somebody I know will read this issue cover-to-cover and notice my name at the bottom of this short little article? I’m quoted in the Editor’s Note at the beginning of the Issue

The best part? When I was talking with the editor of this section in the beginning, I sent her some writing samples so she could get an idea of my ability to actually write. Those samples included some posts from this blog. 

I got my copies of the magazine shipped to me super quick, but I’m not sure when regular subscribers will be getting them. I did post about this on my NanoNaturalist facebook page, so all my IRL nature people who follow me there know my secret (although to be honest, I am highly suspicious of anybody who didn’t notice I was a little weird to begin with).

Life continues to be fun and exciting!
March 16, 2019

Sorry for all the questions but I got curious …

Sorry for all the questions but I got curious after your last post (the earring one): how do you, like, kill the insects animal friendly? Are you bummed out over it or is it just part of the job for you?

Hi there! I’m still working on your first question, I’ll post that tomorrow. 

I don’t kill the insects, my friend who makes the earrings does. There is a big long complicated discussion about collections in general, in terms of being able to have a historical catalogue of species diversity and populations, and you can’t have that without killing things. In some ways, it’s a harder conversation for animals like birds and mammals, because they live longer, reproduce less frequently, and are seen as more intelligent. 

But for me, it very much would bum me out. I have had to euthanize some of my insects (I do it by putting them in the freezer), and even that is really hard to do. I’ve never taken an entomology course because of it. When I was 12, I wanted to be a marine biologist. I was obsessed with fish and marine invertebrates since I was 4, I loved everything about them. But at one point, I realized… you can’t be a wildlife biologist without doing dissections. And I’m a vegetarian who couldn’t even eat fake meat for years because it freaked me out by looking too real (this was in the 90′s before they had good ones)–there was no way I would be able to do a dissection! So over 20 years later, I’m doing wildlife biology my way, but without any formal training, because every entomology course has a component where you create a collection–meaning, you kill insects, and you practice pinning them. 

For most insects, they are killed quickly in a jar with chemicals. Ethyl acetate is the most common, and it’s used in nail polish remover. Freezing is used for some other insects (like moths, to prevent them from damaging their wings with the chemicals). I don’t know what method my friend uses, but he doesn’t use chemicals since he feeds the leftover parts to other animals (his research lab has a lot of fish). 

The thing with collecting is, maybe it’s all part of the job for some, but I think most of the people who study any kind of biology were drawn to it by the living organisms. Very few people in this field take it for granted that the study of life necessitates death, especially when it’s at our own hands. Even my hardened entomologist friends have told me that the first few times are never easy. But in many cases, what you collect could outlive you many times over. There are insects sitting in collections that are hundreds of years old, which are still in good enough shape that we can still study and learn from them.

March 15, 2019

Regular

nanonaturalist:

spinebug:

i went to Explore UT today and got some cecropia moth eggs from @nanonaturalist !! thank you SO much, i’m so excited to watch them grow up!

i also got to hold a hissing cockroach which was fun

Yaaaay! Good luck! I haven’t raised Cecropias before (just kidnapped older caterpillars and cocoons), so I’m excited to try these out too!

It’s funny, I wasn’t planning to be at ExploreUT, but last night one of my friends told me they had volunteer cancelations and were hurting for people. Also, he suggested that I bring my Cecropia moths and stick insects. Both my and my babies’ surprise appearance was much welcomed, and oh boy, the Cecropia moths were mating the entire time. One kid asked if they were kissing with their butts. 😂

The entomology collections had four tables, three had specimens in drawers plus an interactive game at one, and the last table had the living specimens, which would have been only the hissing cockroaches and (well-contained) black widow and brown recluse spiders had I not been present. We were pretty busy all day, so I didn’t get a chance to get better photos of the tables, but loooook!

There’s the hamper with my babies! Their cocoons are off to the right so people could touch them. The sticks are in the tank you can almost see to the left.

(Funny story: that little pink book on the table in front of the bald dude, aka Alex Wild, is a baby album/scrapbook my friend who dragged me into this put together for his botflies. He had ultrasounds done on them and everything. Nerd)

The moths were Popular. I mean, Look;

People were leaning in on the tables to see the moths around the crowd so much that this is how offset they were at the end of the day. Also, here is a better view of the baby sticks. They were very well behaved. Only one escaped, that I know of. At one point I was informed I had a stick insect on my shoulder and I just sighed.

It appears I have successfully infiltrated the Biodiversity Center at UT!

March 2, 2019

@lieslol I was starstruck when I found out UT had hired him and we’d be living in the same city and now we’re on a first name basis

Academia is a small world. Some of my iNaturalist buddies are grad students at UT who have worked with him. And as the curator for the entomology collection, he’s involved in organizing the outreach events. The first outreach event I organized for my master naturalist chapter was Texas Wildlife Day at Texas Memorial Museum, on UT campus, January 2018. That was also the first time we were in the same room. Later, he came to give a talk to the Austin Butterfly Forum, and I asked a question. Then Texas Wildlife Day again this year, which happened after we had both been scheduled as speakers at the Dionysium [link], so when I mentioned harassing his cockroaches at Texas Wildlife Day in the email thread about Dionysium logistics, then snuck up during Texas Wildlife Day and started harassing his cockroaches, he probably recognized me as that weirdo who had harassed his cockroaches the year before and randomly started… answering questions at his table even though… my table was… over there?

Anyways, at said Dionysium, we talked a bit beforehand, then there was my caterpillar talk and my participation in the mosquito debate (just imagine one of my rants in here except I’m using my face hole instead of my hand noodles to do it), and uhhhh yeah I may have bumped up my credibility a little (he may have also double checked on my iNaturalist stats afterwards, based on how he introduced me to the guy in charge of the Stengl Lost Pines site [link], which I am desperately trying to crawl around in (*droooools over the biodiversity present in that protected area*)).

So yeah, one of my bug heroes is introducing me to people as an expert, and I’m the only person who was there for the whole day without a break (because I’m crazy and also MY BABIES!), and I wasn’t on the schedule (I’m not even affiliated with the College of Natural Sciences!)–I emailed him at 2 am to tell him I was coming. When I pass my PMP exam next Friday (because I’m passing this time, dammit), I’m hopping on some digitization projects for him, and I swear if he’s not intimidated by how much I get done, then I have failed.

March 2, 2019

Buy a Coffee for NanoNaturalist

Buy a Coffee for NanoNaturalist:

woefully-undercaffeinated:

nanonaturalist:

Alright, enough about boning moths for a second, cuz I’m unemployed now and I have a situation. I need a particular software package which costs an amount of money which is generally unwise for newly unemployed people to be spending on … anything. But it’s gotta happen for a presentation in about a week, and it’s gotta happen if I want to keep posting here as I have in the past–if you like essentially any post I’ve made that has photos in it, chances are you have enjoyed my having access to this particular software as much as I have.

I have a ko-fi account. I have not “advertised” it much because that’s just not my style and I generally assume that y’all are just as broke as I am. And I’m not desperate yet, but I have been Unemployed in bold with a capital U before and I know with certainty that I cannot survive 9 months without a job this time around. Because I’ve mapped out my budget for the next 9 months and it’s grim. There is nothing I can do that I haven’t already done in terms of job hunting. 

So what I ask: 

  • If you have enjoyed caterpillar butts and moth indecency and rants about bizarre things that you wouldn’t think humans would have opinions about, and if you have $3 to spare, please considering contributing to the cause of ensuring I can continue to raise caterpillars to take pictures of/post their butts and then perv on them doing it while taking very strong stances on what species of bird the bird seed companies put on their packaging (HOUSE SPARROWS?!?!?!!?!!?!?). 
  • If you have enjoyed all these things but do not have the $3 to spare, then please tell the next bug you see that they are beautiful/they are so fat/”What a handsome man!” 
  • If you think I’m stupid and my blog sucks (*gasp!*), then this is me mooning you:

March 1, 2019

Fun fact: Apache’s OpenOffice is 100% free and will easily create, edit, and save PowerPoint format files without issue, as well as being able to work with Microsoft Word files, Excel, and pretty much any other Office suite program you need it to. Share the good news with any other broke academic you encounter. 

warning: no bugs except for computer code ahead

Many people have suggested free alternatives to MS Office (there are a lot of them out there!), and for various reasons, my personal needs require MS Office. For the standard user, yes, you can import MS Office files into google docs/sheets/etc or OpenOffice and not have too many issues. That’s awesome, and I fully encourage everybody to fully take advantage of those resources!

Oh boy if any of y’all think I’m a standard anything, you are in for a surprise

I’m an engineer, right? I keep track of my budget with an excel spreadsheet containing 15 tabs, some of which cross-reference each other, and I *almost* included macros but I needed to draw the line somewhere. I program equations and graphical representations of budget forecasts to tell me exactly when to pay which bills. Currently, I am working on a mangled version on google sheets. Most of my graphs didn’t import. My color-coding is all gone. Some of my formulas didn’t transfer. It’s a mess and I essentially can’t manage my budget until I get office up–the imported version on sheets lost its core functionality.

In an ideal world, where I have a ton of time to learn a new software, I’d be up for giving google docs or OpenOffice another go. I tried to use both when I used a netbook for taking notes in class in the early 2010′s, and I found both to be frustrating and counter-intuitive. That’s not to say MS Office is any better, it’s just as bad, if not worse, but I’ve been using MS Office since Office 3.0/Office 92. It may be a horribly designed suite of programs, but I know how they work, and my resumes, presentations, and obsessive spreadsheeting habit are already in the MS Office format, and I don’t have to worry about formatting issues (… for the most part -_-) on top of a bunch of tight deadlines. 

It’s hard enough to put together a presentation for something you hyperfixate on without getting distracted by margins for 5 hours, when you need to be studying for an exam you’ve already failed once on top of that, with a one-week deadline. 

I would like to hear if other people have made presentations with any of these open-source alternatives with embedded video and animated gifs, because I use a lot of those. 

What about documents with embedded third-party objects? If I use a citation software plug-in with Word, but then import a document to another program, what happens to my citations? Do those open source programs support citation software? Image captions? Responsive TOCs?

March 1, 2019