What am I up to?

This page serves as a mini-blog about what I'm currently doing with my life, from ornithological field research to my newest 'kin projects, here's where you'll hear about them.

5/13/24 - De-gatekeepifying the FAQ

Now that I have a tad more free time at my disposal, I've been trying to update things around here. Lots has changed over the past couple of years online regarding alterhuman and nonhuman identities, and after reading through my FAQ, I realized that some of my answers likely come off as pretty darn snotty. I never intended any of it to sound gatekeepy, but it's a fine line to walk between explaining various aspects of alterhumanity to someone with an outside perspective and providing nuanced answers to community members, and I'm not convinced I did a particularly good job of it. It also seems like the community as a whole (or at least the parts of the community I interact with on a regular basis) has gotten better at understanding and accepting nuanced identities, which is awesome and I'd argue makes for fewer curmudgeons.

No big changes planned for the website currently, but keep an eye out for some tweaks here and there, and if you have any suggestions for updates, please don't hesitate to send them my way!

5/7/24 - I'm a doctor!

I'm very pleased to say I passed my dissertation defense and I'm finally a doctor of ecology! Well, at least according to my academic advising committee. I still need to submit edits to my dissertation that my committee recommended for my degree to be official, but I have a few months to do so. Post-defense edits are extremely common and the suggestions I received are quite manageable, so that's a huge relief. Once I get edits submitted, I'm off to prep for my post doc position doing avian population modeling, which I'm extremely excited about. That unfortunately requires a move across the country, but I'll be moving to a city I've lived in previously, working for an institution I have a long history with, so hopefully it won't be too much of a struggle. Either way, I'm excited to move on from my dissertation work to something new.

3/30/24 - Mmm, bread

Happy spring and stuff! Been offline mostly over the past month trying to finish up school stuff, so no new updates. Still alive though and the end is in sight. Been using sourdough as a low time-commitment activity to make up for the fact I haven't had much time to get out of the house in the past few weeks, so have some loaves!

2/25/24 - So long, Alt.Fan.Dragons

Seems like another goodbye is in order, this time to Alt.Fan.Dragons. Google ended support for all Usenet groups on 2/22/24, meaning nothing new can be posted on Usenet groups (Alt.Fan.Dragons included) through Google. Fortunately, everything is still viewable as archives here: https://groups.google.com/g/alt.fan.dragons

It wasn't a terribly active Usenet group, so not many will be directly impacted, but it's still quite a bummer to see easy access to Alt.Fan.Dragons via Google dissolve. 

More here: https://support.google.com/groups/answer/11036538?visit_id=638444840387706263-527522156&p=usenet&rd=1

Anyway, not much going on here, except I've been living the high life driving multiple hours to see national parks, frantically coding matrices in four dimensions, word vomiting my dissertation chapters, and generally not sleeping enough. T-minus 37 days until my dissertation is due to my committee :)

2/2/24 - Goodbye Intermountain West

Been busy with trying to finish up school (yeah, nothing new there), but I've also been busy moving! Finally moved in with my mate and nearly killed all of my plants in the process. They've surprisingly all survived, but taking them the 50 feet from my apartment to the chilly U-Haul in -18ºC weather wasn't good for the poor things. I'm now in sunnier regions, so I think they, my cats, and myself have been enjoying "winter" a lot more. Miss skiing though.

I'm on track to graduate in May, so claws crossed that I continue to make the progress I've been managing since the holidays, despite the stress and time commitment of moving.

1/1/24 - And happy new year!

Spent the last couple days of 2023 attending this year's Draconic Summit and playing Wingspan with my mate's family. It's been really nice and somewhat restful, although I've been stressing about everything I need to get done before May. Anyway, have my submission for this year's Draconity.org holiday card, and hope your year (of the wooden dragon) is a good one!

12/25/23 - Happy holidays!

Hope you all are having a lovely holiday break, and lovely holidays, if you celebrate them! Been spending mine with my mate and their family and eating way too much good food :3

I've been hurtling toward finishing my dissertation as fast as I possibly can, with the goal of graduating at the end of next semester. It's been a slog, and certainly is going to get harder and busier in the coming few months, but I'm proud of what I've accomplished so far and am on track to have one of my dissertation chapters published either before or soon after I graduate. I'm also getting ready to move in with my partner permanently mid-January, which is quite exciting!

To add to the exciting news, I've been offered a postdoc doing quite literally exactly what I hoped I'd get a chance to work on (in short, pushing avian population modeling methods forward with some of the world's most expansive avian citizen science dataset) starting in the fall. However, that means a second big move within a year, but it'll be well worth it. Needless to say though, I'm already exhausted just thinking about all I have to do in 2024. Phew! All good stuff though, just a lot.

9/30/23 - Dictionary update

FINALLY got around to adding something to the dictionary. Just a measly one definition, but it's something. Been hard to keep up, but hey, a little progress is still progress!

9/26/23 - Dinosaurs 'n stuff

Been busy with school, trying to finish up as much as I can so I can graduate next spring. I feel like I'm so close but also so insanely far from finishing everything. I'm making good progress though and I'm happy with everything, but I have almost no downtime.

I was able to get away for a week and go on another dinosaur dig like the one I did a couple of years ago! It was a blast and the staff there trusted my partner and me to kind of handle digging out bones on our own since we'd been there before and seemed at least passably competent. It was hot and we were basically paying to do manual labor in the sun, but I think we got a fuller picture of how field paleontology works in the real world this time around as we chatted with the staff as we dug in the dirt. Essentially all we worked on were sections of articulated vertebrae because the staff wanted them out of the ground before the season ended, but we also got to look at some incredible Diplodocus femurs and stuff like that.

7/26/23 - CafePress + Zazzle alterhuman goodies

Was procrastinating and tried my hand at making some alterhuman, therian, and otherkind merch! Haven't seen a whole lot available tbh, so I figured I could help remedy that in a small way. Hoping to add some additional designs for other identities under the alterhuman umbrella in the future.

So far I only have a few designs up, but you can find them here if you're interested:
https://www.zazzle.com/store/caffeinated_dragon
https://www.cafepress.com/profile/148410959

(dog tags for the dogs out there heh)

7/14/23 - Gosh darnit, it's too hot

Fieldwork has been excruciatingly hot, leaving me pretty much too drained to do much else besides do fieldwork laundry and try not to bake in my apartment. Bleh. To make matters worse, the bird species I study essentially abandoned the only breeding site in the state, so things aren't looking terribly good for my birdies. On the bright side, I have enough data to finish my PhD, but boy does the situation not look great for the state bird population.

Anyway, my garden is coming along nicely and I harvested my first zucchini! Lots more to follow, so I may be in zucchini hell very soon. Not that I'm complaining, because heck, fresh vegetables!

5/25/23 - Summer incoming!

Been enjoying the warm weather and have been gearing up for my last field season doing research for my PhD! It's a lot of work, but I hired a great field tech who has been helping me repair field gear, organize stuff, and just be generally helpful. I was able to submit one of my dissertation chapters to a journal today for peer review, which is a huge achievement considering how much reformatting we had to do to make it eligible for this particular venue. Damn you ridiculously small word count caps! Here's to hoping it doesn't immediately get desk-rejected by the journal editor.

I also managed to get a plot in a free local community garden, so I'm hoping I'll get a nice harvest of fruits and veggies come the end of summer. Other than than, just trying to keep my head above water as I try to finish up my research and graduate. 🫠

4/26/23 - Talk about busy...

Yeesh, this has been a busy semester, as is evidenced by my lack of posts. I have about a year before my grad stipend runs out, so I'm going full speed ahead in trying to finish my dissertation. I'm making solid progress, but haven't had much time to enjoy anything else. I did squeeze in a little bit of international travel in February with my dad and a family friend, so that was a nice break from work. However, it wasn't at all a restful vacation, so it probably did more harm than good in the long run for my grad work. Still, would I do it again in a heartbeat? Heck yeah!

All in all, I probably won't get to updating the dictionary or anything else on the rest of the site for a bit, now that I'm gearing up for the field season. Lots of birds to study and lots of people to train! Hopefully some pictures of Sri Lanka will suffice instead of dictionary definitions. :P

1/26/23 - Updated the dictionary!

Just a few more terms, but it's something. Y'all keep coining things faster than I can get around to recording them!

In other news, I've been skiing my legs off, which has been a blast, considering we keep getting dumped on with snow. Check out those views from a 12,000ft ski slope!

1/2/23 - Belated D.org holiday greetings

Probably my last post for awhile as I get back into the swing of things after the holidays, but in case you needed a little more holiday cheer, have some belated Christmas cookies! Waited to post so folks over on Draconity.org could enjoy getting theirs in the mail spoiler-free. ^.=.^

12/30/22 - Go check out the Inky Paws Zine!

Who-is-Page just released a banger of a zine [here]. It's a beautifully decorated 89-page collaborative zine, written by alterhumans and nonhumans. I had a blast reading it, and it made me want to do a little writing of my own, which is never a bad thing. ^.=.^

12/25/22 - It Chrismas! Merr Chrismas!

It's been an exceedingly crappy holiday weekend here in North America (I say that broadly, because the large portions of the US and Canada are getting walloped by a massive snow storm/cold snap that now has a significant body count), with flight cancellations and travel curfews abound. I luckily managed to avoid most of it with only a flight delay of four hours or so. At any rate, I'm being force fed as much delicious food as my mate's family can get me to eat, and mostly just lazing around their house. It's been nice.

Added a few YouTube channels to my Resources page, and finally got around to signing up for an Alt.Fan.Dragons email digest, considering the group is still active (!) after all of these years. Seeing some new faces around there, which is nice.

11/5/22 - Draconic Summit and forthcoming resources

Heck yeah, we had a banger of a 2022 Draconic Summit! It was small, but there were a lot of interesting panels and discussions within the Discord server, along with some gorgeous art streams. We're looking to do another one in the spring and to advertise it a bit more widely, so we can hopefully engage more of the draconic community. Even so, we had over 100 participants signed up, including a number of folks who are outspoken or otherwise well known online. I did a panel covering draconic-themed recipes, the recording of which will eventually be linked over under the "My Writings" tab.

During the summit, I was introduced to a number of personal websites from members of the community that I've previously missed, so I'm going to add those at some point soon to my list of resources for folks to browse if interested!

9/25/22 - Cave time!

I got to take a tour of a cave today! A little wet in parts, but the majority was cozy and dry, and would have made a very nice lair. Bonus photo of a cool whale skull fossil replica they had in the gift shop.

Not much else going on here besides too many classes and too many responsibilities. Oof.

8/30/22 - Dictionary updates + extended vacation

I'm on "vacation" y'all! By vacation, I mean spending a couple weeks traveling in Canada with my mate's family, whilst trying to still do my schooling and job at the same time. I'm so tired. Holy cow. Really, why do I do this to myself.

Anyway, there's been some buzz over on Tumblr about something I've been kind of meaning to update for awhile in my FAQ and dictionary, which is how we talk about our identities as otherkind. It's nice to have a neat, concise definition about otherkinity that fends off the anti-kin, whilst still explaining overall what it means to identify as otherkind. But, as we become more cohesive as a community online and events like Othercon allow more of the community to mingle and share ideas in real time, it's becoming pretty obvious that our current definition, while pretty much correct, misses a lot of nuance associated with the wide range of ways one may identify as otherkind. Tumblr's xenodelic put this into words excellently, and I suggest you go read the post if you feel so inclined. I hope to update stuff here soon, but I can't say for sure when it will be done.

7/9/22 - Happy Otherkin Day!

Today marks the anniversary of when the word "otherkin" was first coined back in 1990 by R'ykandar Korra'ti, a then student at the University of Kentucky and the creator of the Elfinkind Digest, an electronic mailing list for elves. There's not currently any agreed-upon traditions for celebrating Otherkin Day as far as I'm aware, but I spent my day wearing some black alligator skin print socks and other black clothing to emulate my kintype's skin color, and then I grilled some wild goose for dinner and chowed down like a creature. Then, to top it off, I went on an evening walk for as long as my COVID-weakened legs would carry me (don't worry, I'm getting better!).

7/6/22 - Conferences (yay) and COVID (boooo)

Wow, what a crazy couple of months. I spent most of it preparing for two back-to-back conferences I presented at, one on a panel about journalism and climate change, and another about my dissertation research. Amazingly, everything went incredibly smoothly, and I was able to reconnect with a ton of people I hadn't seen in years. The conference I presented my dissertation work at was in an amazing birding location, so I think I spent more time outside than I did attending talks. Honestly, no regrets. Unfortunately, even with vaccination requirements and mandatory masking, a whole host of people walked away from the conference with COVID, myself included. I'm a few days into it now, but it's been an exceedingly mild case, and all I have at this point is mild sniffles. I had a fever a couple days ago, but even that was relatively low-grade.

Anyway, I was able to get some nice bird photos while I was at the second conference, so you get to enjoy too! Bonus points if you can tell me where my conference was based on the bird species. 😝

5/21/22 - Vacation

I finally got some vacation time! I went out to the east coast with a bunch of relatives and we had an absolute blast hanging out, eating too much, and collecting rocks. Like, to the point where we all mailed boxes of clothes home because we didn't have enough room in our luggage to bring back all the rocks we got. We got a bunch of granite and I spent some time Googling rockhounding places, and managed to find us a geological site we could dig for free at for smoky quartz. Nothing incredible there, but I got some snazzy little quartz points I can say I found all by myself!

Also, I think I finally figured out what my skin looks like! I've always described myself as looking like I had smoothish alligator skin, but ostrich leg skin way better describes my hide. Not something I ever thought I'd type, but here we are.

4/28/22 - Have a photo (or two)!

Not much to post that isn't me whining about how busy I am, so have a couple scenic photos of a hike in the redwoods I did a week or so ago with my mate! Also, added a couple things to the dictionary, wheeeeee.

3/22/22 - Sunny weather + resources reorganization?

Heck yeah, it's finally solidly spring I think! I've been reveling in the warm temps, although I've been trying to get in as much skiing as possible alongside my schooling and radio job. Kind of dreading summer though, because that means I'm probably going to have a hellish field season again. We'll see.

I've been considering removing all of the Tumblr accounts from my resources page because it's honestly too darn hard to keep up with URL changes and who is even active anymore. Bleh. Kinda sucks to remove resources, but I don't feel like they're terribly helpful anyway, with the exception of a handful on there I'm fairly certain will remain online as archives, even if they do end up going dead.

 2/5/22 - Spring semester and hot water reporting

Spring semester is here and I've been plugging away at hopefully my last class of my PhD and writing up on of my dissertation chapters. It's been slow, but fun to write things up since I'm mostly done with the analysis. I've also been working way too much at my reporting job, and a coworker and I have unwittingly taken on a giant development company that is trying to get permits for a giant project dredging one of the largest lakes in the state to make way for a giant island city. Basically, they have no scientific backing to the safety of their project, and we've pointed that out to them and our listeners, much to the company's chagrin. Whoops. It's been fun seeing how mad they get.

1/7/22 - Happy new year!

Also, finally made up a nonhumanity spectrum chart for my draconic identity. Thanks to House of Chimeras for putting this together!

A brief explanation:

Anyway, not a whole lot is new here that I really want to talk about right now beyond school starts up in a few days (taking my last class in grad school this semester, unless I decide I want to torture myself more later on) and I'm scheduled to take a short trip to Yellowstone with my mate in a couple weeks! I've never been there in the winter and hopefully it'll be pretty empty with the COVID surges happening and it being winter. The park is closed to vehicles, excepting snow cats and snowmobiles, which I think deters a lot of tourists. Oh, also, I've been working overtime at my reporting job (have I mentioned this? I work at a local radio station as an intern...) and I've about had it with the number of hours I'm expected to commit to. Like, my dissertation is suffering as a result. I'm going to have a talk with the news director about reducing my hours, and on the bright side, I've heard from a couple people that the work I'm doing is actually making a difference, which I can't say is true with my dissertation work, so I'm hesitant to quit completely. I'm going to give myself an ulcer though if I keep this up. Bleh.

Also, got a lovely secret santa gift through the OtherConnect Discord server from OmegaΩuack (left, cropped slightly for page fittage) and gave a secret santa gift to OtherConnect's Ardruna (right).

12/15/21 - Done with classes for the semester!

I've just turned in my last assignment for the semester!!! Well, that doesn't count dissertation stuff...that never ends and isn't on a schedule like classes are, so I'm not done for the rest of the year, but at least I can focus more on important stuff now. Assuming I don't find another class to take up my time, next semester I should only be taking one class and then I'll be done with classes for good and can focus on my research. Looking forward to it immensely, because I feel like I'm constantly slowed down by other commitments, and considering I've been here like three years already, I want to get a move on with my research. Yay!

I'll be visiting my parents over Christmas, so it'll be nice to see them, but beyond that I'll hopefully have some solid time to catch up on sleep, hobbies, and reading papers I've been meaning to. Definitely, definitely looking forward to sweet, sweet sleep though.

10/10/21 - Oh sweet blessed free time

Now that I'm mostly cleaned up from this summer's fieldwork and the weather's getting a little crummy, I actually have a little bit of free time to chill and actually catch up on projects, including, maybe, just maybe, this site. I've mostly just been working on analyses for an upcoming conference and trying to push one of my dissertation chapters forward so I can get this darn thing out of the way. It's fun, but it's been a long time coming.

I spent almost a week backpacking in the Sierra mountains a couple weeks ago with a backpacking group, and it was super cold (well below freezing at night), but really fun. I got a chance to spend some time in scree and talus, which I felt a strong draw to back in 2016 when I did some fieldwork in Alaska. I wasn't sure if that draw was something like a hearthome or maybe something related to my kintype, so getting the chance to revisit that type of landscape was exciting. Most of the rock in the eastern Sierras is granite, which I definitely didn't jive with, but being in scree in general and seeing the high, craggy mountain peaks felt pretty right. Maybe if they were basalt. With the high mountain lakes and good peaks to glide between/take off from, I could see myself living there as my kintype, at least part of the year.

Anyway, I made it up past 12,000 feet on a hike, and we stayed for three nights at 11,000 feet. One lady got mild altitude sickness (she was fine the next morning!), but otherwise everyone, myself included, felt fine. It's still mind-boggling that I can just, like, go somewhere randomly that can give me altitude sickness...never thought I'd do something like that, considering I always kind of assumed altitude sickness occurred at way higher elevations. Also, I've been backpacking in the wilderness for an extended period of time before, but I learned a ton about what works well for backpacking at high elevation and in cold temperatures, so that was pretty cool too.

9/12/21 - Last week of fieldwork

Oh thank goodness, I'm exhausted. This coming week is the last week I'll be doing fieldwork this year, which honestly has been my own little personal hell. I won't vent a whole ton, but to put it succinctly, most things that could have gone wrong did, and I had almost no help from the people who promised to train me, fund me, and generally have my back.  I've also done a great job of pushing my meat suit to its limits, and will likely have to spend some time pampering my joints and spine. Even so, I was marginally successful at doing the research I was tasked with, although at a far smaller scale than intended. Anyway, it's almost over and I can put some more time into being present here and on my other accounts, and generally updating the darn website.

In some brighter news, I tagged along on a dinosaur dig earlier last month, and we found SO MANY FOSSILS. It was honestly really incredible, and at one point the company we were working for begged everyone to stop finding bones because there were so many uncovered that they just wanted to get the ones out of the ground that they already knew about and not worry about the zillions of diplodocus ribs sticking out everywhere. Super super cool, and I got to jacket a handful of fossils for transport. It was an amazing experience, and I took a ton of photos. While I'm at it, have a few more fieldwork photos too.

8/13/21 - Othercon live!

Ugh, what a week. I gave a presentation at a bird conference Thursday and then stayed up most of the night to finish my Othercon presentation for today. But it went well! The con has been so incredible so far, and the quality of the panels has been top notch. So many cool beings and critters in this community too! It's tough sometimes, but I feel so blessed to be a part of the alterhuman community.

Anyway, if you'd like to see the recording of my panel, go check out My Writings (I guess it's technically not a writing, but eh). Also, have a pic of some finished candy crystals I made for one of the food demos!

7/23/21 - Fieldwork and Othercon prep

I've done it! I finally caught some birds for my research! Look at this gorgeous man:

(captured and handled with proper training and permits!)

Also, I've started prepping for my Othercon panel with some delicious treats!

7/3/21 - Ice Ice Baby

I'm slowly prepping for my Othercon panel, and I got a few candy molds for a crystal rock candy demo I plan to include! I haven't actually bothered making candy in them yet, but I tested them out by making some ice cubes, and they're super cool! I'll also do a couple other food demos (pre-recorded) for the panel, but I haven't decided fully what to do yet. Maybe some hand pies and a vegetable dish. Hmm.

In less great news, I'm definitely going to suspend working much on the website until probably the end of August. Fieldwork is killing me (I still haven't caught any of my target species!) and I have a conference at the beginning of August I'm presenting at that I need to prep for. Oof. However, once things slow down a bit, I'll get back to updating the dictionary and refining/adding to the FAQ and my writings. But at this point I just need a thousand-year nap.

6/15/21 - Rocks are tumbling again!

After taking a long break from rock tumbling, I'm back at it! I have even more rocks now that I picked up from my parents' place, so I figured I should get back to it. I'm way too busy to take progress photos, so I'll spare you all those. I've also started fieldwork for the summer...sort of. There aren't many birds around for me to capture yet, so  things have been frustratingly slow, and this is my first year running fieldwork for this project and I haven't gotten much feedback on what I'm supposed to be doing. On the bright side, I get to meet lots of new people and wander around in cool wetland areas with cool wildlife.

5/21/21 - New forum dropped + synesthesia

Once again, I've devolved to my once-per-month posting schedule. Bleh.

Anyway, a new nonhuman/alterhuman forum has appeared! It's called Nonhuman National Park, and it's the work of a number of rather well-known folks in the community. It's gotten off to a pretty banging start. There have been a lot of discussions and some really nice writings popping up over there. As far as I can tell, most of the members have made their way to NNP from Tumblr, but I've seen a handful of people mention they aren't Tumblrites, and there are a good number of names I don't recognize, whether that's because the aren't on Tumblr or I just haven't run across them.

On NNP, there's a thread asking members with psychological kintypes or what they feel might be psychological kintypes about their kintype origins. There are all different kinds of potential explanations for psychological kintypes, but I generally equate my identity to some kind of brain quirk, considering I have synesthesia. A few other people echoed that as well or mentioned that they knew a good number of community members with synesthesia, and I'll be really interested to see where the conversation goes and if it's worth probing more to see if alterhumans have a higher rate of synesthesia than the general populace (we already have a far higher rate of queer members in the community). Of course, we may not have higher rates than non-alterhumans, but have just gotten better at analyzing our experiences, considering that's a heavy focus of the community, and I'm not sure we can tease that apart easily, but it's neat to explore anyway.

4/20/21 - I passed!

Hooray, I passed my comprehensive exams and am now a PhD candidate! I still have to finish running analyses and writing my dissertation chapters, but I'm free to sit around and work on that instead of taking classes. It feels so good to be able to move on to stuff I'm actually supposed to be working on instead of worrying about studying for comps. Anyway, I plan to be around here a little more, updating things and making the site cleaner. Also, I hope to write more personal essays and stuff and actually get around to summarizing Alt.Fan.Dragons. Yay! 🥳

4/12/21 - The worst is over

Yeeech, I spent the entirety of last week grueling over written exams for my doctorate program. Next Monday I take my oral exam, which basically consists of two or three hours of verbal questioning from my committee, and then assuming I pass, I'll be free to let my brain ooze out my ears for a few days! I'm actually weirdly enjoying this whole process, because despite not knowing everything, I'm realizing that's alright, and I'm expected to learn more as I progress in my program. I also am realizing I'm capable of figuring things out on my own without handholding from my advisor. At any rate, a week from now I can start actually updating the website routinely again, and hopefully be more active online in general.

3/11/21 - Quick update

I'm alive! I've been extremely busy studying for my comprehensive exams, which, if I pass, I'll move from PhD student to PhD candidate. I'm not terribly worried I'm not going to pass, but I AM worried about how much I'll be humiliated in the process if I don't study, so I've been burning through as much ecological literature as I can to understand my study species and statistical modeling. I expect to take my exams in April, so I likely won't have much time in the near future to update the website or just be around in general.

On a more exciting note, the panel I submitted for Othercon 2021 has been accepted! I plan to do a presentation on cooking for your non-human identity, and safe methods to do so. Still considering details (it's in August, so I have plenty of time), but at this point, I plan to run over basic food safety, suggest some safe alternatives for commonly requested foods, and then show step-by-step videos of how to make a few dishes. I plan to record this ahead of time (it's hard to cook multiple dishes properly and do them justice in under an hour for a live audience!) and then spend some time near the end doing some live Q&A.

Last but not least, I've decided at some point I'm going to start going through the Alt.Fan.Dragons Google group and recording the history there. The messages start in December 1993, so I've certainly got my work cut out for me, but as the longest-running draconic message board, it's incredibly pertinent to draconic history and one of the reasons dragonkind have a bit of their own culture compared to other mythkin.

I guess, while I'm on the topic, a few years back I discovered there was another dragon on AFD named Kiera, who sounded extremely similar to me from a morphological standpoint...smallish, black, western, etc. Wild! I wonder what happened to them. I guess I have a doppelganger somewhere out there.

1/27/21 - New heart-type, baby!

I've been waffling about this for weeks now, but I think I'm solidly ready to confirm a new heart-type! I'm fictionhearted with andalites (kickass blue alien centaurs) from the Animorphs book series. It struck me one night randomly that andalites hold a special significance in my life somehow, and I actually thought I might have an andalite fictotype for a second, but that doesn't feel remotely right. They're a super cool species, but I ain't one. I did pretend I was one a lot running around on the playground as a kid though. Good times.

Definitely didn't think I'd be as excited about this as I am, but it's cool! It makes sense! And yay, I have an excuse to think about andalites more often! :D

Also, I've changed the website format a tad! Hopefully it improves readability a little. One of my biggest pet peeves with this site was that it got really eye-fatiguing to read after awhile, but now that I can change background colors and fonts, I'm hoping this will be a little more accessible.

1/7/21 - Unrest in the United States

If you've read my last post, you'll know I spoke too damn soon. I don't have much to say about the past couple days about the horror in Washington D.C. that people haven't already put more eloquently than I can, but I'll go on record to say that it's bleedingly obvious the United States government and law enforcement have a systematic white supremacy problem, and that what Trump attempted was undeniably a failed coup, spoken not just by me, but by international trade partners of the United States. Black Lives Matter, and if you support Trump and his base, get off my website.

1/4/21 - New year, same me

We made it to 2021! Thank goodness. Let's hope this year treats us a little better than the last. A great testament to how excited everyone was to end this year was the screaming, cheering, and multiple fireworks displays that went off at midnight in the relatively quiet Mormon town I currently live in.

My winter break was lovely, and I got to spend a whole lot of time hanging out with my mate and a few close, socially distanced friends (outdoors of course). Beyond making some awesome food (pavlova, anyone?), I had the chance to get to know my mate's family with a good ten hours of Skype calls over the course of a week. With travel distance, the pandemic, and my mate's parents being extremely picky with who they're willing to accept as their children's significant others, I hadn't gotten much of a chance to talk to them until now. They're lovely, and I think they may actually genuinely like me. Now, if I can pick up some Mandarin, I think I've got this in the bag. 🤣 Jokes aside, I'm signed up for a Mandarin class, so I'm hopeful I can actually pull this off.

Beyond that, I got some killer Christmas presents, including the start of a desktop gaming rig that will finally allow me to turn the graphics up on my computer games beyond the potato setting. I also plan to use it to run some Bayesian models for my research, so it's not just a completely frivolous addition to my tech collection. I've never had anything custom-built before, so this has been really exciting.

Anyway, since it's the new year, I figure some alterhuman-related resolutions are in order:

I'd love to do a deep dive into all things alterhuman and just take some time off from all my other responsibilities, but hot dang I gotta finish this degree first.

12/16/20 - Uff dah, what a year

Hooray, the semester is finally winding down! Unholy heaven and hell, this year has taken a toll on me. I'm extremely bummed that this site has fallen by the wayside a tad, but with the course load and prep for my comprehensive exams, I've been flat out exhausted. I'm not taking classes next semester, so hopefully some downtime over winter break, plus extra time next spring will get me back on track.

In other news, my mate is here for the holidays, since we've both opted to not visit family and risk a drive across the country and more human contact. Considering I've just been home with the cats all year, even as a relatively solitary creature, it's nice having someone around. We don't have much for plans yet beyond cooking lots of tasty food, but I'm sure a hike or two and lots of Pokemon GO is in order.

EDIT: AHHHHHH Google Sites finally added the ability to change fonts! Except, of course, it boots me back a page every time I change anything. Ah, code bugs. They'll get it running smoothly eventually.

11/21/20 - Claw Gloves!

I made some claw gloves this weekend so I can have claws when I feel like it without having to glue nails to my fingers or fiddle with claw rings and stuff.

Pros: close to the right colors, I don’t have to glue nails to my fingers for claw feels, clacky sounds when I touch things, easy on/easy off, kitties love claw glove scratches, comfy!

Cons: I used water soluble glue meaning these can’t get wet, the nails I used are definitely not the right shape, no scale or hide texture, just weird fabric texture (physically and visually), cat hair magnets.

These are actually sun gloves I usually wear outdoors when the UV index is really bad (if the universe got one thing right when putting me in a human body instead of a dragon one, it’s that I was made to live in the dark...I honestly can’t handle sun exposure much at all cause I’m too darn pasty).

I purposely glued the nails on with water soluble glue, so that when I actually want to use these again next summer or swap the nails out for ones that look/feel better, I can just soak them in the sink for a bit. Not perfect, but a start!

10/23/20 - General Life Updates

Winter's coming! Over the past few days it's gotten really cold, and we're supposed to get snow this weekend. Seems like out here the seasons hit like a sledgehammer. Other than digging out my blankets and nesting, I've just been trying to keep my head above water with grad school stuff. I'm taking a spatial analysis class, and it's a lot more work than I anticipated. Plus the software keeps crashing on my computer, so that's fun.

Anyway, I've been baking and doing socially distanced backyard hangouts with my friends to keep myself sane, and we've all pledged to break out our winter gear so we can hang out together outside in the snow when things get really cold. Man, I'm glad I have outdoorsy friends...otherwise I'd be sitting alone in my apartment all winter because I sure as hell ain't hanging out with people indoors until we get COVID under control. *sigh*

9/28/20 - Tumbled Rocks: Batch #4

Bleh, I’ve been so bad about keeping up with posting rocks...I’ve been so friggin’ busy with the semester. Anyway, here are some more tumbled rocks!

Lots of agates this time! The really orange one is from Lake Superior...honestly not sure how I managed to get my hands on such a nice agate by digging around in a lake. No idea what the green ones are still, but the larger chunks are quartzite, and the one that broke into three pieces in the bottom progression lineup is banded slag glass.

In other news, the semester and the state of the United States is slowly wearing me down, so I'll be very happy for a break this winter. I'm doing alright, but man I need a vacation and a good solid sleep.

8/20/20 - New bracelet + Othercon

Othercon (and oddly the giant bird conference I was at too) inspired me to be a little more forthcoming about my draconity, so I made a faerie star bracelet! It's a tad delicate for my jewelry tastes, but I was too cheap to go out and buy thicker chain. I actually really like how it came out though, and considering the charm is literally just a smashed dime with holes poked into it, it was really cheap to make. Took a bit of effort to figure out how to hammer the star design into it though, and I'm sure my neighbors didn't appreciate me experimenting!

It also doesn't have a clasp so I can't chicken out and take it off 🤣

I also realized I've been remiss about recounting my impressions of Othercon (for those of you who aren't familiar, it was a virtual convention held over Discord for the alterhuman community, although it primarily focused on otherkin, therians, fictionkin, and to some extent systems and dæmians). It spanned three days (8/14 - 8/16) and featured a number of voice panels covering topics from community history, body modification, and alterhumanity and its influence on gender identity, plus a number of art streams and a boatload of text channels for discussing different alterhuman and general topics. Considering this was the first Othercon ever, I was extremely impressed, especially considering the huge age span of attendees. I always worry a tad about virtual gatherings, as it's much easier to go down the rabbit hole of grievances when you're not seeing other attendees face-to-face, but there was very little drama and it seemed like some more experienced community members took it upon themselves to collectively teach new terms and offer help to younger or more inexperienced members. As far as I know, Othercon 2021 is a go for next year, and depending on my availability next year, I may try to do a panel covering safe and easy meals for various kintypes, although I'll have to put some thought into what I want to cover specifically. There's definitely a need for finding safe alternatives to things like raw meat, blood, and inedible items like rocks within the otherkin communities, and with my restaurant background, I feel like I could give some solid safety guidelines and provide some fun recipes. Anyway, I have a year to plan, so I can think on it.

Also during the con, I splurged and got a commission done by the excellent Roarar (links to their other stuff here!), who streamed the whole thing. Never thought I'd commission someone to draw me with pelicans, but here we are 🤓

7/30/20 - Tumbled Rocks: Batch #3

I finished polishing these like a week ago, but forgot about posting them until now...they turned out great! Some of them have a literal mirror shine on them. No idea what they are, but they’re pretty anyway! Here are the finished products, and there are progression photos below.

Honestly I’m pretty excited about these, since I collected all of these myself this time (nothing bought), and some of them came out so great! Here are the progression photos (over ~4 weeks):

My next batch is for my mom, so I’m not photographing the progression on those, since there are a zillion of tiny rocks, and I don’t wanna deal with that. Might post finished pictures of them though, if they don’t reek as badly of sulfur. x_x

7/3/20 - Dragon doodles, old and new

Found a couple sketches I'd forgotten about in my art folder! These are based off of the above doodles I did when I was maybe six or so. Clearly six-year-old me had some creative dragon species names...

I actually found the plain lineart of the new versions a couple days ago and started coloring them in, but then GIMP crashed and I lost everything because I was dumb and didn't save...then realized I had nearly finished copies in another folder. Whoops. On the bright side, these versions are way better, and funnily enough, I actually ended up choosing the same colors for both pieces on both attempts, despite having forgotten about them for a good four years.

6/26/20 - Custom mask came in the mail!

My semi-kinself-based custom face mask came in the mail! Took some artistic liberties with it, so it doesn’t make me feel particularly shifty or anything, but it’s quite comfy and is fun to wear.

Also added some resources for plurals to the Resources page...go check it out!

6/24/20 - Minor FAQ Updates

Made some minor FAQ updates, including refocusing a couple sections on alterhumanity as a whole instead of just on otherkin, or at least broadening otherkin-centric answers to otherkin/therian + fictionkin. Also removed some unintentional ableism in a couple of points and clarified some stuff. Some of the FAQ was written back in 2015 for my Tumblr account, and some of it has aged well! Other parts, not so much. It'll always be a work in progress, and if you ever see something I should correct or clarify, just shoot me a message.

6/14/20 - Tumbled Rocks: Batch #2

Heck yeah, I’ve fixed my polishing issues and now I have so many shiny rocks! I even went back and re-polished a few from the first batch. Here are the finished products, and there are progression photos below.

These are the progression photos (over ~5 weeks), and rocks tagged with blue are ones I collected myself, and ones tagged with red are ones I bought:

Check out that giant bar of amethyst!!! I want to keep all of these, but if I don’t start getting rid of them soon, I’m going to be drowning in rocks, even more so than I already am. Might set up an Etsy and sell them for cheap or something.

Some of these I took out at different stages and didn’t put back in because they were too soft, which is why a few stay the same throughout most of the progression.

Also, behold, the fugliest tumbled rock I’ve ever seen:

It was dyed completely pink originally (it was actually pinker than in the first progression photo because I started tumbling it before taking a picture), but whatever dye they used seeped into parts of it, so it’s half nice polished tan and half rough, kind of chalky brown-pink. Ah well.

Next batch in soon!

6/7/20 - Time for some website updates

I've been reading through some of my website content, and I realized some of it needs some minor updating. Over the next few weeks, I plan to tweak and add to the FAQ a tad, improve the language on the p-shifting myths page, and slog through the process of checking for broken links on my resources page (ugh). I've already made some good updates to the dictionary, but I'm constantly finding things I've missed, and new terms keep coming out, so that'll probably get updated again soon as well. I realize the FAQ is almost completely otherkin and therian-centric, so I hope to change that a bit, although my expertise is definitely in the realm of otherkin and not much else. Slow but steady improvements!

5/15/20 - Batch #2 goes in!

This is honestly the best quarantine hobby I could have picked up. I'm sure you can tell, but I'm having a blast! Here's a pic of the next batch that went in:

I'll take more progression pictures, but I probably won't post them until they're finished, like I did with the first batch. I'm re-tumbling a couple rocks from the first batch (the red shiny one in the center, and the yellow-brown petrified wood below and to the right of the red shiny one) because they're so friggin' hard that they barely wore down at all. They'll go through the full process again and will hopefully be more rounded when they're finished.

Besides me obsessing over shiny rocks, things here are pretty quiet. Classes have finished for the semester, so I don't have any assignments due or anything to grade. I've been ramping up my work on dissertation work, so that's been keeping me pretty busy, and I've been working hard to preserve vegetables (freezing, pickling, fermenting) that I bought last week so they'll keep longer and I won't have to go to the store as often. It seems like COVID-19 cases are starting to get bad here for real (we're up to 60 in the county as of today, but no deaths...yet), and I'm really not willing to go grocery shopping anymore. I live alone besides my cat and zillions of plants, but I'm doing surprisingly well and haven't really felt lonely yet, so besides the constant onslaught of depressing news, I'm doing pretty darn good mental health-wise.

At some point in the next few days I plan to post another writing here and add at least one dictionary term, so I can finally say the website's been updated beyond me talking about myself again. Ha.

5/14/20 - Tumbled Rocks: Batch #1

My first batch of tumbled rocks is finally finished! Here are a bunch of pictures of the rocks and some thoughts about my experience the first time around:

So, tumbling rocks is a lot less foolproof than it seems! A good number of rocks didn’t shine up as I’d hoped (too soft, too small, weird shapes, etc.), and it turns out some rocks can bruise (???) if you don’t cushion them enough, but the learning curve isn’t that steep, and some of these came out glorious regardless.

Here’s the finished product:

I also had the presence of mind to take initial photos of them before I put them in, so I have some nice progression pictures of the rocks. Here are the progression photos (over ~6 weeks), and rocks tagged with blue are ones I collected myself, and ones tagged with red are ones I bought:

There are rocks in here I collected from Utah, Wisconsin, Alaska, Michigan, Kenya, and Japan, so quite an international batch! Anyway, some more about specific rocks that I’m super proud of:

Here’s the one that started it all (below)...for whatever reason I had a feeling it would make a really good polishing stone, and I’ve been meaning to polish it for probably at least six or seven years. No idea where I found it or what it is. Whatever it is, it’s super hard and relatively translucent, but when you shine light through it, it’s orange inside and blue/purple on the edges.

Pretty sure this one is a chunk of magnetite...it’s super heavy and magnets stick to it. It’s also got really cool shiny inclusions (specularite?). I collected it from a mine in the upper peninsula of Michigan.

Sorry for all the gifs but it’s super hard to show what these actually look like with static pictures. Check out the mirror shine on these agates I got from Lake Superior!

I collected this one from Lake Superior too, and it probably was one of the best glow-ups of all of the rocks...it’s incredibly colorful and has these weird starbursts of yellow and red.

These four are all ones I collected too...I think the upper right is some weird swirly rock from coastal Alaska and the pink granite is from Lake Superior. I have no idea where I found the bottom left, but it’s cold and shiny and has little purple and blue divots in it, along with what looks like pyrite (fool’s gold). The upper left is one I got from a little creek near my grandparents’ house in Michigan that I kind of thought might be a garnet, and I was right!!! The garnet kind of shattered while it tumbled, but now I have all these little garnet bits.

I could go on forever, but here are the last couple I got good pictures of:

Something that looks like granite from Alaska that’s super orange/pink with these cool green inclusions, and a rock that wore down a ton (it’s in the first progression picture) that I found while doing a pay-to-dig excursion at a copper mine in Michigan.

I have another batch tumbling right now (I'll post a picture of the raw batch a bit later), so hopefully in four or five weeks, I’ll have some more to show y’all! I collected some of the rocks locally, so hopefully they’ll turn out nice. Now, what to do with all of these polished rocks...

4/26/20 - Camping is definitely keeping me sane

Just as the title says...camping last night was lovely, even if there were some loud people camping up the canyon a ways. I basically just sat around and played with the fire and perched up on the rocks all evening, and then went to bed. Being up so high made me really shifty, and I climbed up some of the rocky outcroppings while it was still light out. It was super nice to just be out and not worried about people or bothering anyone.

Behold, pictures!

4/25/20 - General life stuff

The rock tumbler is still humming (clunking?) along nicely, and by next Monday I should have my first batch of rocks done! I've been taking progress pictures every time I take them out to switch the tumbling grit, but I'm way too lazy at this point to organize and post the pictures. I plan on posting side by side progress pictures once I finish tumbling them. I've gotten really used to the sound of the rock tumbler going, and it's quite nice, especially considering the house is silent otherwise. I guess I have to start another batch as soon as this one finishes!

Otherwise things are fine here...we're getting more and more cases of COVID-19 in the county, and I've been staying away from human contact as much as physically possible. I'm going solo camping tonight though, so that'll be a nice outdoor excursion to keep me sane. I've been to this campsite once before last month, and it's really remote and away from humans...it's technically not a campsite, but a wilderness area with camping allowed anywhere as long as you follow certain rules, so literally no one should bother me. It was a bit chilly last time, but now it's solidly spring here, so hopefully I'm comfy!

4/6/20 - Rock tumbler!

My rock tumbler came in the mail today! I’ve been wanting one for ages, considering I have so many raw rocks lying around that I think would polish up nicely, but getting a high quality one isn’t easy on the wallet. It also gives me something to do when I'm too tired/lazy to work on school stuff.

Here’s what went in today (decided against the x’ed out one because it was too big). I’ll check on them in a few days, but from start to finish with all four grades of polish, this batch could take up to a month 😭

Anyway, I can’t wait to see how these turn out, and I’m a very happy derg right now!

3/13/20 - Spring break and school chaos

Happy Friday the 13th...and the first day of self-quarantine! Well, it's not really quarantine, since I'm allowing myself excursions outside to pick up essentials and attend the one mandatory meeting I have a week, so self-isolation is probably a better term. Plus, I have no current reason the believe I'm sick, but I'm still distancing myself from people. Anyway, it's been a darn good day so far...worked from home, got a ton of housework done, some homework done, and a few general school things done. The university has shut down all in-person classes for the next few days and is switching everything to online instruction, and my advisor has told us all to work off campus if we can to minimize our chances of catching or spreading COVID-19, so I'm living it up at home. Honestly, I'm super excited to just hang out and do all the little projects I've been putting off for ages. Plus, I don't have to get out of my pajamas! I've got a lot to do to get the course I'm TAing online, and I know the faculty have been put under tremendous stress to switch everything to remote learning, but I definitely don't have the worst of it.

Anyway, last week was spring break, and I got to go visit my partner. We had a wonderful time, got to meet up with my parents for a couple days, and eat some really good food. While I was visiting, I explored the grocery store and found some neat dragon themed beer, but I didn't pick any up because they were all dark beers (meh). Cool label art though, at least.

I also got to explore the area a little bit while my partner was at work during the week, and although it wasn't super warm, it was sunny and nice, and I got to break out the short sleeves for a bit. Everything around there is weirdly manicured, but the people mind their own business, and there was a nice walking trail and some good birding to keep me occupied. All-in-all a good, but really weird few weeks.

2/6/20 - Life and whatnot

Basically an excuse to procrastinate and post this cool picture of mountains I took a few weeks ago:

Otherwise life is good! I've been busy with school and friends, and I started playing on a local hockey team, which I'm really pumped about. I've also been out skiing a bunch, so the winter sports are going nicely this year.

I've been quite shifty lately too, for whatever reason...it's nice actually, and more just shifts and not dysphoria, which is nice for a change. It's been happening a lot when I walk to and from the bus stop and while I'm sitting at my desk on campus. Who knows.

1/20/20 - Therian Nation Magazine

If you haven't checked it out yet, I highly suggest it! The first issue came out today, and it's chock full of history, stories, advice, recipes, and anything else you can imagine. Being a ravenous beast most often myself, the recipes looked extra delectable, and I'll post pictures if I find the time to make one or all of them. You can find the magazine here, and it's 100% free!

1/16/20 - Happy happy Appreciate a Dragon Day!

Not much else to say, beyond I didn't realize this was a thing! Honestly, they have holidays for everything under the sun, but this is an extra fun one, especially for the draconic community. I've got absolutely nothing planned as far as celebration goes, but maybe I'll think of something before the day is over. At any rate, I appreciate all my fellow dergs, and I'm glad we've been able to form a semi-coherent online community and keep it going for so long.

1/14/20 - Back to school

Welp, I've started my third semester as a PhD student, and it's been interesting so far. I'm only taking one class, so my schedule is far more open than it was my first two semesters. I have a ton to do, but I don't have hard deadlines on a lot of this stuff like I did last year, so I'm hoping I won't be dying inside as much and I can work on things as I get bursts of inspiration instead of slogging through assignments because I know they're due in three hours. I've also been out enjoying the winter scenery more, especially I think because I got a break from it in South Africa. It's been snowing like crazy, making snowshoeing and skiing a blast!

12/29/19 - Africa, baby!

Ugh, I'm so jet lagged, but the trip was well worth the exhaustion! I spent Christmas in South Africa with my parents, and we had a blast. We spent about a week in Johannesburg and did a bunch of stuff around there, like going to the Cradle of Humankind museum, going on a graffiti tour, and checking out the university there. After that, we took about a week to visit Kruger National Park and a couple private game reserves, where we got some amazing looks at the wildlife. I was really surprised at how chill the big cats are...as long as you don't chase them around, they'll let you get right up next to them in the landrovers. Talk about crazy. It was a swelteringly hot vacation, and I had to drown myself in sunscreen, but it was still an amazing experience. Here are a few pics!

11/30/19 - Conference and Thanksgiving

Welp, I managed to survive the conference I went to earlier in the month, although I really didn't sleep much the week before. I met some really cool people there and have kept in touch with a few. I ended up giving two presentations at the conference, and I already feel so much more comfortable speaking in front of people now that I know I can really do it, but it's still obviously a work in progress. I also schemed with my advisor to bring back some oysters (the conference was on the east coast of the US and there are apparently some excellent oysters there), so we had a blast eating them with some of the other faculty when I got back.

I just got back home from spending Thanksgiving with family, and it was really nice being able to spend time with relatives I almost never get to see. That being said, I really just want to spend the next week sleeping and maybe working off all the turkey I ate. On the bright side, I got to eat turkey neck for the first time...for those of you who know how much I like the weird bits no one else likes to eat, you'll understand how exciting that is. 😆

10/20/19 - I'm (mostly) alive!

Seems like I've only been managing to give monthly updates...ah well. Once the semester's over, I suspect I'll have a lot more to talk about! As of now, I've just been prepping madly for a conference I'm presenting at in a few weeks, and trying to keep up with massive amounts of homework from one class in particular. I doubt I'll be sleeping much over the next few weeks.

On a lighter note, I've started trying out rock climbing with some of my friends! It's tough, but it's been a blast and a great de-stresser. We've also had our first snow here already...I'm excited for the winter snow sports, but not looking forward to the chilly weather.

9/19/19 - Yellowstone and School Hell

So, to continue on the "adventures in the outdoors" theme, I'll tell you all about my trip to Yellowstone this past weekend! My labmates and I planned (sort of)  a whirlwind overnight trip through the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. We did a lot of driving, and we ended up leaving to drive to Yellowstone at 5am. 100% well worth the sleep deprivation though. We saw innumerable bison, a few elk (they even bugled at our campsite all evening!), and boiling, sulfuric ponds galore. It's one of the most bizarre landscapes I've ever seen, and it's mind boggling that animals seem to live in relative harmony near the volcanic features in this hazardous and unpredictable environment. We had wonderful weather and we managed to snag a campsite on the last night the campground was open for the season...it was kind of chilly, but I was toasty in my tent and we warmed up in the morning with some steaming hot coffee. Anyway, enough about the trip...have some pictures!

Beyond waltzing around the western United States in my free time, I've been slowly forging ahead in grad school. I've been taking some classes that are really heavy on the math, so that's been less than fun, but I'm making a little headway on the dissertation research, which is nice. I'm also working on getting stuff together for a conference I've been invited to in November, so that's exciting, if not a little terrifying.

8/19/19 - Dragon Drinks and Whitewater Rafting

I had a heck of a week this week, and I suspect I'll continue to have some jam-packed weeks coming up, since classes are starting and such. I don't know if I was just sleep-deprived or what, but a few days ago I was feeling really awful, so I splurged and bought myself a Dragon Drink from Starbucks. It was pretty decent, considering it had chunks of dragonfruit in it, and of course, how could I resist something edible with "dragon" in the name? I still think they should have gone with white dragonfruit and put something green in it (lime and coconut?) for a more traditional dragon green color. Still, the pink was pretty darn rad.

I also had the chance to go whitewater rafting over the weekend! It was neat because I got to introduce a few of my friends to rafting, and I got to go again for the first time in a good fifteen years. We were only on class three rapids (intermediate), but it was a good way to ease back into it, and not scare off the first-timers. It was extremely cold and very wet, but we all had a blast and ended the fun with a trip to the local brewery for burgers and beer.

8/3/19 - Not Much New Here

Not much new here, but I figured I'd keep this page fresh-ish! I've been mostly just been doing fieldwork and kinda hanging out.  I've started attempting to learn how to fly fish, which has been disastrous so far, but a ton of fun, and it's really satisfying being able to eat something I caught myself. I'm also still friggin' poor, so I've been trying to find different ways to get some cheap/free and interesting food in my diet through fishing, picking berries, etc.

Classes start up again this month, so I'm kinda prepping for that, as well as some short stints in the field finally actually working with my study species! August is going to be insanely busy.

6/21/19 - Happy Solstice!

Happy solstice, everyone! I'm finding the older I get, the further I drift from traditional American holidays and instead am reveling in celebrations that center more around the earth. I didn't do much today to celebrate, but my mate is visiting, and we took a nice walk along the foothills at sunset after pulling a nice steaming loaf of homemade oatmeal porter bread out of the oven. Sometimes holidays are best when they're simple.

6/20/19 - Field Work & More Field Work

I can't say I've been around much online because I've been spending most of my days getting up at 6am and banding songbirds. It's been really nice, and I enjoy it a lot, but lack of sleep has been taking its toll on my motivation and interest in doing any computer work - academic or otherwise. I'm feeling pretty confident handling small birds though, and I was able to introduce my partner to mist netting and banding birds when they came out to visit recently. I still haven't gotten a chance to actually work with my study species yet, and I'm getting really antsy to be honest. We were supposed to have gotten funds to buy our GPS transmitters by now, and we're still just...waiting. Could be worse though, I suppose. On the bright side, I've gotten to hold a ton of adorable birds, like this really rage-filled mountain chickadee.

I've also for whatever reason not really been shifting lately...maybe just because I'm so exhausted all the time and am not paying attention to my body. Well, that's a lie, I get the occasional tail shift, but not much else. Anyway, I recently discovered my local grocery store sells beef soup bones for extremely cheap, so at least I can cook those and gnaw on them/make stock with them once my shifts inevitably start back up again. 🍖

5/11/19 - First Semester Down

It's official, I made it through my first semester of grad school relatively unscathed. I'm also finally getting my act together on fieldwork! I've finally got traps mostly ready for the birds I need to catch, and I'm working on getting some GPS transmitters picked out for my project partners to order for me. Neat stuff. It sounds like I'll be sitting around in various wetlands all summer, waiting to catch birds, so it may not be the most exciting work, but at least I should have some good company.

All the summer birds have started moving back into the area, so I've been doing a ton of birding. I went on a hike up one of the canyons a couple days ago and got to see at least two birds I've never seen before and had some beautiful scenery to boot!

4/12/19 - Just School Updates

We're nearing the end of my first semester in grad school, and overall, things are going really well. I mean, I'm sleep deprived and totally exhausted from the endless amounts of work I've been doing, but my lab has been so so supportive and I'm exhausted in a good way. Mostly. I'm quite ready for the semester to end though.

Field work for me probably won't start up until at least the end of May, so I might have some time to relax slightly, and hopefully add a little more to the site and such.

3/13/19 - Tables of Contents!?

Looks like Google finally added an easy table of contents function to the new Google Sites! This means you FINALLY don't have to slog through the entirety of my FAQ if you want to find the answer to a particular question. So far I'm only using it for the FAQ page, but I might add one to the Resources page if that keeps growing significantly. The tables of contents are currently autogenerated, so you can't really do much to edit them and make them less clunky, but it's a start. I guess that's the downside to not building my own website from scratch.

Anyway, go check out the shiny new FAQ if you've got a second!

3/12/19 - Spring break spring break!

Finally, I get to enjoy a little downtime! I've still got a bunch of schoolwork I need to catch up on, but at least it's stuff that's directly related to my thesis. Last week was a hell week that involved a midterm no one in the class understood, and a total of 12 hours of driving back and forth to meetings and fieldwork. I got to band some birds and saw at least five new bird species I'd never seen before though, and I got to handle a couple of them! I'm getting relatively comfortable handling tiny songbirds now, which is something I haven't had much experience with in the past. My forté up until now has been wrangling football-sized to goose-sized birds...which are a lot less delicate than the tiny birdies that come to your feeder. At least the little guys don't bite so hard. 😁

2/25/19 -  Checkin' In

Not much new here, besides more coursework and some progress on thesis ideas. Anyway, I'm still alive, although I've been banging my head against too much modeling code that I don't understand. All in all though, things are going well! I've made some good friends, had some good food, and skied to my heart's content. I also finally feel like I'm getting a handle on what I'm doing here and what I'm studying.

1/18/19 - Grad School Begins

It's official, I've started my PhD program! It's been a ride already, and I've only been on campus for two weeks. I really like my advisor and lab mate so far. The lab I'm in is part of a group with two other small wildlife labs, and the students and faculty in the other two labs seem top notch as well. We've had a couple lab meetings already (one at a pub...ha!), and discussed some interesting topics like whether scientists really know what they're doing when they conduct statistical tests (the answer is apparently "sometimes"). My classes are really technical, although I think that may ease up later on in the semester.

The scenery around here is gorgeous, and I'm right near the mountains. There's apparently great hiking and skiing around here, which I'm going to do my best to take advantage of. Although the mountains aren't super huge, I'm really thrilled to be in a mountainous area, since I can hang out on the mountain tops and maybe feel a little bit more at home.

12/2/18 - The Dictionary is Live!

I've finally gotten the dictionary finished enough that I'm willing to show it to the world. It's still missing a few terms I'd like to add, and I'd like to eventually add more sources, but I'm generally happy with it for now.

If you have any terms you'd like me to add, or take issue with one of my definitions, shoot me an email.

11/20/18 - Grad School and Scientific Papers

Some wonderful news arrived in my inbox today...I was finally officially accepted to a PhD fellowship starting in January! I've known I was going to get the position for about a month now, but I didn't want to tell everyone and jinx it somehow before the university got all of my paperwork lined up and looked at. I'm going to be working on seabird demography, which is exactly what I wanted to go to school for (albeit on a slightly different study species), and I'll have the chance to work with a ton of people from the state government, plus some cool people at the school. To top it all off, the lab I'll be in accepted another student to a master's position who I know from previous field work! It'll be nice to have a familiar face around. I'm basically going to have to move across the country for this position, which means I have to pack everything I own into my car (if that's even possible) and say goodbye to my partner for the next four years. We'll be able to visit each other, of course, and we've done long distance before, but it's still sad to know I won't be able to wake up and see their face on a regular basis.

I'm also currently finalizing a first draft of the paper I've been working on since I got back from Alaska, so it'll be nice to have that finished up and submitted before I go off to school. Unfortunately it seems like I'll get the reviews back for it from the journal I'm submitting it to right as school starts for me, so I have a feeling I'll be drinking a lot of coffee in January. ☕️

10/2/18 - More Website Features!

I can embed pictures into my posts! You bet I'm going to take advantage of this way too much. Now, maybe they're one step closer to letting me embed my own HTML navigation links. -_-

Anyway, have a pic of a cute petrel chick I measured while doing research in Alaska.

so fluff

Not much new here, beyond the fact that I'll likely have more time to spiff up this site and finish up the dictionary I said I'd add. My first paper should be published online in about two weeks, and I'm currently working on another first author manuscript, which I'm really excited about. My co-author/former boss also mentioned he knew someone who was looking for grad students, and that he'd recommend me if I was interested, so hopefully I'll have some luck with grad school finally! I'm very quickly learning that grad school in the avian world is really about who you know and not how nice your cover letter looks, which is unfortunate because I know no one, and I have a heck of a nice cover letter.

Alaska was great, and the weather was excellent overall, so we managed to stay pretty dry and relatively warm. I had a little canvas tent to myself, and my coworkers each had their own cabin/shed. Pretty posh for field work. We spent most of our work time digging puffin and petrel chicks out of burrows to measure and weigh them. I can't tell you how much working on the cliffs made me want to fly around with all the circling puffins. We also spend one night mist netting for adult petrels to collect diet samples from them (a.k.a. puke), and boy was that a trip. I got puked on a number of times, but I was wearing rain gear, so at least I came prepared. We stayed out for a little under three weeks, and then I spent another 10 days working in the office going through colony photos and transcribing data. A little less exciting, but still important.

8/14/18 - More Field Research

Welp, I'm off to do more avian research. I'll be without internet or cell service until the beginning of September, which, as nice as it is to unplug, seems like it will be a real bother this time. Why? I leave for the field in four days and the technical editor of the journal I submitted my manuscript to just got back to me asking for a few last changes. That's all fine and dandy, but I highly doubt they'll be able to get the final draft back to me to look at before I leave, so publishing is going to be delayed another three weeks at least. It's really more me just feeling bad about making everyone wait on me, but I'm also quite tired of how long this manuscript is taking to get published. 

Anyway, on the bright side, I'll be researching seabirds up in Alaska again (I was on a crew a number of years ago at a nearby research site) on a tiny island with two other people. The whole process of getting ready for a field excursion is super exciting, especially the grocery shopping part, because we literally clear entire shelves of food. 20 boxes of Triscuits? Check. 150 pounds of oatmeal? Check. This time around I'm with a smaller crew and we won't be out nearly as long, so the packing and grocery shopping won't be as extensive, but it should still be an adventure.

My crew leader position in NH ended a couple weeks ago, and I've mostly just been trying to pick up the pieces and finalize that research for the year. The PI for the project may not be around next year, so he asked me to put together a full handbook for the project in case he wasn't around to train people. Kind of a headache, but it should be an extremely useful document for future field crews.

6/4/18 - Avian Research

I recently started my avian point count position up in New Hampshire, and I'm loving it. Well, all but the getting up at 3:30am. And the bugs. But otherwise it's great. My crew gets along quite well, and they're all generally in good spirits, which is something that you really need for a field position that involves this much bushwhacking. I've also started working on putting together a research project looking at climate change and organism range changes throughout the area, which I hope to turn into a publishable paper. If all goes well, with this project, and the seabird paper I submitted to a journal in April, I could churn out two first-author papers this year. I'm really hopeful, and if I manage it, it could do absolute wonders for my career.

4/3/18 - Various Website and Life Updates

First of all, I'd like to announce I'm adding a dictionary to this site. I have no idea when it will be finished, but I'm a decent way into collecting reference sources to cite and hopefully won't take past the beginning of summer to finish up. Why bother, since there are a number of wikis covering alterhuman terms? Well, a number of older and community specific terms are missing from some or all of them and as far as I've seen, none cover all aspects of alterhumanity...only specific communities under the alterhuman umbrella. I don't necessarily know that I'll cover everything right off the bat, but that's what my contact info is for. Send me a term and I'll add it to the dictionary! Bonus points if you can give me sources to cite.

Beyond that, only a couple life updates worth mentioning come to mind...I've managed to snag a job leading a field crew collecting avian population data at the same place I was employed last summer before I left for Japan. It'll be my first crew leader position, so I'm quite excited. It's a pretty low pressure leadership position, which is perfect for a first-time crew leader. Through this position I also have the opportunity to conduct my own research and present my findings at a conference. If I'm lucky, I might even be able to squeeze another journal paper out of it. The only other thing worth noting in my life is I've been semi-promoted at my current chef job. No pay raise unfortunately, but I've moved up the totem pole and am overseeing new hires and working multiple kitchen stations. Yay!

1/23/18 - Happy New Year + New Job

Many small updates this time...I've continued to write up my journal manuscript, and am at the point now where I'm receiving feedback. I have a lot to go through and fix (although this isn't uncommon with journal papers), but it's chugging along nicely otherwise. I've started a new job as a chef at a local restaurant, and it seems to be going decently. I've only spent a little over a week on the job, so I'm still making the occasional dumb mistake, but I'm improving. Regardless, cooking on the line is always a great workout, especially when I have to run up and down the stairs to fetch ingredients. Phew.

Happy New Year to you all! I hope this year treats you well.

11/22/17 - Happy Thanksgiving + New Apartment

Not a whole lot of new stuff is happening right now in my life, besides me finally getting settled in my new apartment. It's a tiny studio apartment, and the heat doesn't work particularly well (it's alright, I have an electric heater, and I don't have to pay for electricity), but otherwise it's absolutely perfect! I've been working a day or two a week making gourmet breakfast food at a local pop-up food vendor, and spending the rest of my time trying my best to write up a manuscript for a scientific journal on the research I did in Japan. It's my first time writing a journal paper from scratch, and the journey has been a bit bumpy so far, but it's coming along slowly but surely.

Also, a happy (almost) Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it! I'm not doing much in the way of celebrating this year, but I'll be roasting a whole chicken and having fun making chicken stock with the leftovers.

8/26/17 - Japanese Ornithological Research

Hey folks! I'm currently in Japan conducting field research for an ornithologist at Oxford University. I'm on a tiny, tiny island in the Sea of Japan researching a species of seabird that lives along the coasts in Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia. We've been deploying GPS trackers on our birds to collect data on where they travel during the day, how often they return to their colony, and how often they come back to feed their chicks. It's been extremely hot and humid, but it's been an exceptional experience so far. I've been living with a number of Japanese researchers in a house next to the ocean, and I've been trying all kinds of exciting new foods, like sea snails, tamago kake gohan (rice with raw egg), and Japanese curry. I've been picking up a little Japanese, but I'm generally pretty terrible at it...although I may continue trying to learn it after I leave the country.

I will leave the island in mid-September to spend a week exploring the rest of Japan, and then I'll be headed back the the US to work on applying for graduate school and finding a new apartment.