02
Aug 12

What is it like?

This question popped up on Quora recently and I offered a response (though, to be honest, I’m more curious about other people’s responses). Dave Dash, formerly of Mozilla web dev answered as well, and Jared Wein answered in blog form.

I’ve included my answer below even though, re-reading it a few days later, there’s so much more I want to add (I can’t believe I didn’t mention working with our worldwide community of employees and volunteers, or the impact of video conferencing, or the miracle of california tacos, or qdb, or mozillamemes…)

What’s your experience?
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20
Apr 10

105 – Why I Bird

Yesterday my life list passed 100 birds. This makes me happy; I’ll try to explain why.

Beltzner asked me once why I liked birds so much. I told him I didn’t, not particularly. I like nature. But if you go out for a walk in nature, you’re apt to come across a rodent or two, maybe an interesting mammal like a fox or deer, and you’re going to see at least 20 to 30 different kinds of birds. Bird knowledge is high return on investment, and gives lots of opportunity for practice. Knowing… I don’t know… voles, seems less immediately rewarding.

As for keeping track of them, I only started that last fall after a trip to Florida that was particularly packed with “life birds” (birds I’d never seen in the wild.) It may delight you to know that keeping track, “listing” as it’s called, is not without controversy. There are rules, if you enjoy such things, and there are a variety of local, regional, continental and world lists to work from. There are also, because of course there would be, reactionary elements within the bird watching world who are anti-list. There are lines drawn along the axis of listing that separate “birders” from “bird watchers” in ways that any Trekkie (or Trekker) will find immediately familiar.

I mostly don’t go in for all that. I record every bird I see in the wild; that’s it. For now I keep the list to North America, though I might start a world list at some point. I don’t record a bird until I’m confident of the ID, and I add a little ‘P’ in the margin for those where I managed to snag a good photo. Among (ahem) serious North American birders, my 105 is child’s play. 250 is the price of admission, 400 is typical of serious hobbyists, and 700 is a target once thought impossible but now reached regularly by people with the ability to fly to the Aleutian Islands to sneak in some Eurasian migrants while still technically in North America. I’m not likely to go in for all that, either.

Still, it’s rewarding for me to keep track. It motivates me to seek out habitats I haven’t visited before, and it lets me flag certain birds with extra import. It helps me notice detail on the birds that, I think, makes me a better photographer. Mostly, it gets me out of the house and into nature with a camera – that’s reason enough.

For posterity, then, my list to date (in Peterson’s order). Big thanks to Barry, my mentor in all things bird, for getting me this far.
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25
May 09

What’s a Few Months, Really?

I know.  It’s  been a few months since my last post.  But what’s a few months, in the grand scheme of things?

Stick that in your perspective and smoke it. It’s worth clicking through to the HD version.


16
Jan 09

7

Preamble

I think “memes are fun” and “I hate memes but this one’s okay” and “I’m a grumpy buzzkill” have all been taken as reactions to this thing already.  I guess “we are social little monkeys whether we acknowledge it or not, and it’s okay to do silly things which feed that need” is what I’ll go with, though I believe it overlaps with some existing responses too.  I do think I’m the first one on planet to mention monkeys in this context, though, so I’ll cling to that shred of originality.

The Rules

  • Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post. I have the distinct honour of having been pinged by veritable titans of the internet age. You may know them as Beltzner, Campbell, Finette, and Slater, but to me they’ll always be Mike, Rob, Jane and John.
  • Share seven facts about yourself in the post. Yes well, there are sections for that, you know.
  • Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs. Likewise.
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged. Quite.

The 7

  1. I used to have my own television show.  It was called The Voice on Rogers Cable 10, Brampton.  It was a teen affairs show and I was the host.  I actually had no particular interest in it, but I ran with a crew that included a lot of television nerds, who took courses in television production, and since all the fun was behind the camera, they shoved me out in front.  This is where I first learned that in television, “The Talent” has a meaning opposite to the one you’d expect.  We did 3 shows, the last featuring a live performance from a local grunge band.  Awesome.
  2. I have a reasonably excellent keloid on my right arm as the result of a scald from a cup of tea. I was probably 10 or 11 at the time, and I flomped down on the couch one evening when a cup of tea, erstwhile sitting pleasantly on the armrest, leapt from its resting place in the ensuing compression wave and came to rest on my arm and stomach getting what I can only describe as my undivided attention. I remember rushing to the shower to douse it with water. I remember being in shock, shuddering about every 5 seconds; vibrating, really. No hospital, no skin graft, although I did wear a Jobst™ compression sleeve for most of grade 6 to keep the scarring down. These days, it’s just a gnarly scar, but in high school I had about half my friends convinced that I’d tried to bite my arm off, as a baby.
  3. When I left university, I weighed a hair under 300lbs. I’m 6’4″ or so, which makes that slightly less egregious than it might otherwise be, but under no circumstances can it be understood to be particularly healthy.  I have no idea how it happened.  I lost it through boring old “eat less, exercise more” so don’t expect any winning diet tips here.
  4. Over the years my parents have furnished me with, in addition to a mother and father (implicitly): 2 step-fathers, 1 step-mother, 5 step-brothers, 2-step sisters, 2-step-brothers-in-law, 2 step-sisters-in-law, plus a brother and sister that, while nominally “half-siblings,” I grew up with and disregard any supposed half-ish-ness.  This has allowed me, in various contexts, to be the oldest child, the youngest child, the middle child and an only child.  Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Alfred god-damned Adler.
  5. Me, with Sibs

  6. I grew up in a little house in the suburbs which, despite being a little house in the suburbs, housed over 100 animals.  We had, at one point or another: cats, dogs, rats, mice, gerbils, hamsters, degus, chinchillas (chinchillae?), parakeets, budgies, love birds, cockatiels, grey parrots, rabbits, guinea pigs, baby Russian tree squirrels, baby feral black squirrels, sugar gliders, anoles, salamanders, snakes, plus an 85-gallon freshwater fish tank with red tailed sharks, plecostamii (plecostamuses?), tetras (neon and otherwise), guppies, angel fish, texas cichlids, kuhli loaches, goldfish and, of course, snails. This is not because our parents were over-indulgent of our whims, rather the reverse, we kids indulged mom; we also loved it. She is down to 4 cats, 1 dog now, but also up 5 chickens.
  7. Mom with Chicken

  8. I read a lot, on a variety of subjects, but I have a profound inability to resist books which tell the history of the world through the lens of a single commodity or substance, e.g. Cod, Salt, Horse, Oak, The Secret Life of Lobsters, A Perfect Red, Pigeons, A History of the World in 6 Glasses, Crows, Parasite Rex. I am similarly drawn to books that document usually invisible subcultures, like Body Brokers, The Island of the Colorblind, Word Freak, Gang Leader for a Day, The Game, and Candyfreak. I’d say less than 20% of my reading is fiction, for which I sometimes feel bad, like I’m letting my literary brain die, but the mind wants what it wants.
  9. I, like a surprising number of people here, married my highschool sweetheart. Amy Nightingale (née Lush, yes really) and I started dating in grade 10, less than a month after she stopped dating my best friend (saucy!).  I continue to be astonished at the amount of patience she exhibits in our day to day lives (“I just bought a new bench grinder to help make my own lockpicks!”, “I’m going to make homebrew beer in the kitchen!”, “I’m going to walk to the auto parts store, because I just drained the car of oil and now I can’t get the filter off!”, “I’m going to stop shaving for a month, and get the other guys at the office to similarly annoy their wives!”) and intimidated by her ability to show her emotions more honestly and more bravely than I am capable of doing.  I have been blessed to have a lot of really amazing women in my life (you know who you are), but I hope none of them will object to me pointing out that she is my favourite.

    Amy

The Tagging Who’s left?  I mean, honestly.  I am basically gliding down the stale end of this adoption curve, aren’t I?  Here are some people more laggard than I.

  • gen – Not only do we need more Mozilla Japan representation, but Gen is also so awesome he’s illegal in 14 states.
  • thunder – Because I never get to see Dan any more.
  • pav – Honestly, how has Stuart been allowed to slack this long?
  • sayre – I know it violates some new york aloofness statute, but your public wants to know.
  • mary – Because I like her glasses and her moxie.
  • neil – What spirits haunt the mind of a man who chooses to work on focus bugs, and also writes comedies for Second City?
  • davidb – David just started in the Toronto office, and while he’s giving away our secrets, it’s only fair he should share some of his own.
  • and Amy – who can spread this pox to whole other populations, if she ever decides to blog again. :)