I'm not dead yet! I was working on stuff like this.
The University of Oregon conducted its annual geology field course over the past six weeks. Sandwiched between geological mapping sessions was a two-week paleontology camp. After thirty-five years of mental preparation and a night of packing enough bug spray to clear a forest of all invertebrate life, I hopped into a van and joined the camp in central Oregon.
In the subsequent two weeks I kept a daily journal while training as a field paleontologist. Now that I've re-established Internet contact, I'll be posting my journal entries here. You, too, can experience one philosopher's transformation from bookworm to...I dunno, field mouse?
Arrived at field camp to find the campground claimed by swarms of mosquitos. I have already killed two with my bare hands. I feel no remorse. I have moral standing and they don't.
In the perfect future to come, mosquitos will be nothing more than an intellectual exercise for invertebrate paleontologists.
Two auspicious events on the drive over:
- The van driver--another grad student in U of O's Earth Sciences program--listened to an episode of Radiolab wherein the hosts discussed the possibility of back-breeding Pinta Island tortoises. Since I've already hosted a couple of reading group meetings about de-extinction, my classmate asked if I had any thoughts. "Just a few," I said, feeling like Bruce Wayne discussing a news report about The Batman.
- We stopped at the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center, where we met the rest of the camp. I walked through the exhibits with one of my classmates from the paleontology lab. She pointed to an oreodont and confidently promised, "We'll find some of those." Bring it on.
My first big find is just a relatively flat spot for my tent. It isn't even really my tent. I don't own a tent. This says all that need be said about my current level of experience, I think.
Headed out to our first site tomorrow. We've almost made it, Five-Year-Old Lenny!