Monday, May 3, 2010


Don't forget... hop over to BEER AND TREES!!!!!!!!! New posts are there right now.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I rotate so fast I appear invisible.

Hey, folks. Whether you have been waiting with bated breath or haven't been aware... I haven't been here for a while. I apologize for the month of silence.

What has been going on? Well... First, I have left Puerto Rico. I have nothing but love for the island, but it was time. The work was getting tedious, the people overbearing, the island all too familiar. All signs that it was time to dip and begin the next stage of this life.......

But since then, No, I haven't been idling, and this post has a specific purpose. A purpose that I'll explain now. For the last six months a plan has been in formation, a sort of realization of dreams. It began with my friend Tyler, who approached me long ago with the intention of driving cross-country, something he was determined to do, whether or not he had a posse. After a month or so of waffling I agreed to join the team, along with a 3rd, Michael. Tyler, a budding brew-master, had his sights set on checking out various microbreweries along the way, as well as visiting national parks... all in all an authentically wholesome agenda in my eyes....

Time passes.... excitement builds... thumb-tacks go into maps.... and....

I write this now on the eve of our departure, and still nothing is set in stone... and that is the way we planned it to be. For me, I will be a part of the team until the 22nd of May, when I am jettisoned into the sagebrush desert of SE Oregon for my next job. There I will spend two months performing census of colonial marsh-nesting birds, another adventure entirely. But that will be covered later. Much later.

So, now we have come to it. Tyler, Michael, and I will be operating a blog on our journey. It will be focused, it will be varied, it will be juicy. Appropriately, it will be named Beer and Trees. Yum Yum! Check the link below...

It will be for nature lovers. Beer lovers. Travel lovers. And most of all, for the dreamers. Lmao that's cheezy.

For now, I'll just leave you with this sick line from Lupe, off his Enemy of the State mixtape.

"I've seen a bunch of fake shit like avid wrestler fans." - Lupe

Lmaooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, PEACE!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Most Bizarre Behavior

Before you read this post, make sure you read this direction:

This is a narrative about a domestic human situation. Consider its likelihood, its appeal, consider everything about it. And, make sure you stop afterward and read the next bold-faced statement.

Out of all the exotic, tempting places in the world, perhaps the most bizarre behavior of all took place in the suburban gardens of the British couple, Bill and Jane Momsen. To the passing eye, they lived together as a traditional pair… but, little did everyone know, that still didn’t preclude a little infidelity now and then.

Let’s take a look into one May morning of theirs together. Jane is quite pregnant, spending most of her time primping the soon to be baby’s room, decorating the crib, and gabbing to all of her envious, jealous friends. Bill is busy in the front yard, trimming the hedge, keeping an eye on the shady characters. Vigilance is both part of his duty as a husband and as a member of the Community Watch. He still isn’t sure why, but keeps his eye on Jane, makes sure that she is doing exactly what he expects, makes sure that she is where he thinks she is. It’s been that way ever since that scum-bag Jerry came around. Jerry wants his Jane. He can tell it in his eyes, the way he lurks around the trashcans.

Lunchtime arrives and Bill and Jane come together once more, eating together. He compliments her cooking, she rinses the dishes, he asks her if she needs anything else. Bill reflects on how useless she is. Jane reflects on how much he underestimates her. How he has no idea how much he owes her.

Bill watches her walk back up the stairs, and then he goes back out into the front yard to work, and just as he does so he spots that scum-bag Jerry lurking in the hedge. Bill takes off his shirt, breaking into a sprint after Jerry, his muscles rippling beneath his chest hair. Jerry freezes, plants on his back foot, and then lunges to meet Bill. They collide in a mass of testosterone, nails clawing at each others backs, curse words flying.

"You effing wanker."
"You bloody sack of oats."

Jerry begins to hear his glasses crack, realizes he is beat, and promptly flees.

Bill sighs. He has got Jane to himself again. He gets back to work… he is convinced that Jane is at work upstairs, putting up that new wallpaper. But, on the contrary, Jane has just slipped out the back window, has just met up with Jerry, has just declothed and submitted herself to him. Jerry could never resist the sight of a proper lady shaking her fanny like that...

It’s now mid-afternoon, and Bill is about finished working. The yard looks great, much better than all the other yards around. He is truly proud. That is until he sees flush-cheeked Jane sashaying out of the front door, coming up to him, acting like she did 15 years ago, acting like they were still in lust. What the hell, he thinks.

Bill immediately knows something is up, grabs her wrist, and leads her into the den. Here he proceeds to inspect her genital opening with his hand until she ejects some droplets. He knows what it is immediately! It is Jerry’s sperm! They proceed to copulate anew, Jane seemingly content with all that has transpired. She is even waggling her fanny like she did for Jerry! Bill, driven by his instincts, spends no time thinking.

------------------ Years pass -------------------------

Young Ted, the son of Bill and Jane, is experiencing his 17th birthday. From Bill and Jane he receives his favorite CDs and Bill's old car, a BMW. From a mysterious man who claims to be his estranged father, a man he has always kept secret from Bill, he receives access to a bank account of 100,000 dollars(a secret fund for his future), as well as 3 Twix bars, his favorite.

That evening Bill is out working on the hedgerows, thinking of how much his son resembles him. Then he sees the shadow again. His back aching, he runs down to the curb, only to see a rat slip down the drain. God damn it, he thinks.

All the while, Jane is sitting on the upstairs balcony Bill built for her, fondling the jewelery Jerry gave her, smiling at the secure future she has made for her young Ted. What a brave life she has lead so far! She has kept two males happy, both of whom have helped young Ted get to where he is.

The first segment of this post, as I said, described a domestic situation between Bill, Jane, and Jerry, where Jane, the promiscuous wife, tricked two men into taking care of her son. Now for Part II. Part II is taken from the Life of Birds, narrated by David Attenborough. It details the infidelity of one species, the Dunnock...

Most birds stay together as a pair, at least during the breeding season. But… living as a pair doesn’t preclude a little infidelity now and then.

Perhaps the most bizarre behavior of all takes place in the suburban gardens of England, and the common hedge sparrow, or Dunnock.

Picture a female Dunnock ready to lay. Above her in bush is her mate Alpha, singing lustily, declaring his ownership of the nest and the territory around it in which he feeds. The pair often feed together, a devoted couple if you ever saw one.

However, Alpha seldom lets her out of his sight, for she is not as faithful as she might be. There is a third bird around…. Beta, another younger male. He is not popular with Alpha and they are continually squabbling. Sometimes the fights can get quite vicious and feathers fly. But in spite of that, the loner Beta stays around, skulking out of sight in the hedge.

To Alpha, it seems as if he has the female to himself once more. But she has got her eye cocked. Beta is still in the hedge, calling quietly to her. And now while Alpha is preoccupied feeding, she joins Beta in the hedge. She and Beta get together. She begins twirling her tail as an invitation, and in a split second they mate. Beta flies away.

But now, out in the open the female is now courting Alpha with that some old tail twirling. He, however, takes precautions to ensure his paternity. He pecks her genital opening, and she eventually ejects a droplet. Its Beta’s sperm. He persists for up to 2 minutes, until all of his rival’s sperm is gone. And now, he mates with her. It will be his sperm that will fertilize her eggs. She has kept two males happy, both of whom will help to feed the young when they hatch, and Alpha has managed to ensure he will be the father of the eggs she will soon lay, or at any rate, most of them.

So there it is, one group of humans, one group of birds... well... what else is there to say? Perhaps this...Cough. Cough. Ahem!

"Extreme infidelity like polygamy is not widespread among birds. Among most birds, and humans, male and female stay together, and by a combination of bonding with one another, and driving away any who try and interfere with the partnership, they stay together. Male and female conduct their courtship on equal terms, and when they are convinced they are compatible, they work together to build a nest. And once they do that, they enter the most difficult time of their lives, a time in which they'll have to employ all kinds of ingenious stratagems if they are to raise a family."

Cheers! Vacation time for me... with mother and father. Or so I'm told....*wink*

Saturday, March 6, 2010

lips that touch tears lose their taste for kissing... a.k.a... CAT UPDATE!


More workers arrived to our apartment this past weekend. They have moved in, reshuffled the equilibrium, and most importantly, given me reason to tell stories about what has happened. I have been around the Puerto Rican block, know the island, and can sound like an expert...something I love to do, especially since I have been the one constantly asking people questions for the last two months.

Out of the assortment of details I've related, the one that evoked the most emotion involved our saga with the cats... specifically, Don Hawk... the cat who's trials and tribulations have been chronicled already on this blog. For a refresher(I recommend this), read the initial reports, a couple posts down from this one.

I spoke of Hawk in detail, told them how we had taken him away, how he had returned, and how we had taken him away again, to his now presumed death. I had scarcely allowed myself to think about Hawk until then. How the situation pained me! Thankfully, the newbies were full of oohs, ahhs, and most of all, awwwwwwwws. It was the past, it was nostalgic, it was fun.

And so it came to be March 5th...

Phillip, Sarah, and Kim had gone for an afternoon of surfing, a route that takes them through the old neighborhood where we had last released Hawk. As they returned to the house in the late afternoon, I heard Phillip's screams first. "Come look!"

And yes. I knew it. Hawk was in his arms.

They had seen him sitting on the side of the road, not 5 minutes from where we live, and picked him up and brought him back. Just like that he was back. I sat down by the door and stared at him, at his once white legs, now sooty with dust. He ran into my knees, plowed his head into my open palm, and it felt good. Very good.

But a good feeling does not solve problems, especially when it comes to rogue beasts... and that is where I find myself now.

Now that I am around Hawk again, and the initial joy of reunion has worn off, I can see that I am the one that has changed. The ruling fist of Don Walter has poisoned me, and I find myself to be, bluntly, an amalgamation of hypocritical emotionz. Late last night after he returned, I found myself sitting alone with him, cuddling by the door, rough-housing like we used to. But then this morning, I saw him sitting outside the door and felt an uncontrollable rage, and in turn I punted him four or five times in the ribs and butt, making sure that he had fled down the street.

One moment I am in love, the other I am desperate to get him out of my sight. Later, Kim had left the door open like we used to do and Hawk had wandered in on his own accord, weaving through the table legs like he owned the place. Instead of coaxing him, however, I felt panic and let out a tirade of threats.

"If you let this cat in the house again, you're going to have to answer to Don Walter," I shrieked. "I have taken the fall way too many times already, I will not do it again!!"

I picked up Hawk and chucked him out again, shouting obscenities. But then, just hours later, I was out wandering the streets, wondering where he might be, peering into hiding spots for his familiar shape.

................... Yes. Now it is obvious... I am a confused, old friend, of Don Hawk. As I sit now and reflect on the situation, I attempt to piece together the feelings. I want him close, but not close enough to be seen as a relationship... in the eyes of both Don Walter and Don Hawk. He needs to be a casual stopper-by, an independent man... or it is not going to work. I have closed the book on elicit intimacy... and I will not tolerate a battle with Don Walter again, I will not put stress on the friendship we have forged since the initial battles began.

At least for today, that is. :-O

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Burnt at Both Ends: The Energy Shot

Ever since ESPN started airing the commercial, it was inevitable.

Long lasting energy without the crash... You don't need energy drinks, just the energy...

These phrases were permanently ingrained in my head, every 3rd commercial, as I sat wondering how the Bobcats(17-6 at home) could lose at home to the New Jersey Nets(1-27 on the road), how the Tarheels could get dominated so mercilessly by Georgia Tech, if the Lakers can beat the Cavs with Jamison(yes), or how glad I was that Johnny Weir was at a safe distance...

5 hour Energy.

Ever since being overexposed to 5-hour Energy, I've been secretly obsessed with giving it a try. Not out of necessity, not as a trial run for future addiction, but to...?

To put a feeling to the name. Would 2:30 really feel like 5:30?

To confirm my suspicions. How much does life suck for people who rely on them? Would Luke Harangody consider it?

5 hour energy. 5 hour energy.

Since I made the decision to do this about a week ago, I have been trolling the supermarkets, gas stations, and finally the Walgreens in search of the small orange bottle. Gas stations? No luck. Supermarkets? No luck. K-Mart? Sold out. 1st Walgreens? Sold out. 2nd Walgreens? Sold out. Apparently Puerto Ricans are super into it... Even more reason to do it!

However, the prolonged search was getting irritating, so I decided that I didn't care that much about the brand, just the effect.. so I settled for the second rate spin-off sitting next to the empty slot on the shelf: the Monster: Hitman Energy Shooter. . I purchased the 3 fluid oz. bottle for 2.99.

In doing so, I was directly defying this statement by 5-hour Energy on their website: Despite dozens of imitators, 5-hour Energy is still number one – by a wide margin. Why? Because it works.

According to the bottles however, they have the exact same ingredients, the Monster: Hitman even one-upping 5-Hour Energy with 400 mg of Panax Ginseng. So, any fears of tainting my experiment were thus assuaged, and I entered the next step at full throttle, dreaming of full throttle.

Next step? To actually drink the energy shooter. The target was for the early morning of February 17th, selected simply because it was the next day. I glanced briefly at the warning label, cursorily noted the phrase: "no more than 1 every 4 hours," the words "irritability, rapid heartbeat, pregnant women," and read no more. In retrospect, here is what it really says:

But at that moment in time, I didn't care about their warnings. I wanted to make my own warning. And this is how it reads:

6:30 AM. I chugged the small bottle on the way to do point counts with Alcides. Taste doesn't really matter, since it's gone in a millisecond. Only preparation? Make sure I'm not the one driving. For the first hour nothing has really happened, until... I realize that something is happening. While driving to the next point, I discover myself simultaneously attempting to:

- eat yogurt
- remove seed-pods from my pants
- grope for my pen beneath the seat
- change the CD to Kid Cudi
- enter the next point into the GPS
- read directions to Alcides
- grasp his joke about if your friend falls into this plant to say this phrase about a penis, which is a double-meaning, because...

As I said, I try to accomplish all these things simultaneously in about 2 minutes, all while feeling quite nauseous and strung out. I "succeed," but have worked myself into a complete frenzy in the process...

Anyways... we are arriving to the next point, so I have to get out and open a gate. As I get back in the car, I can't open the door because the spoon is still in my hand and then I slam the door on my foot getting back in. I become entangled in the seat belt and by the time I de-tangle it's time to open another gate. Alcides is fully aware of my experiment and is whooping and laughing at me.

The point is up a stream-bed, and my goal is to not fall and at the same time to think of some adjectives to describe my sensations. I create a chant of them so I can remember them until I write them down. They are:

- Nausea
- Over-enthusiasm
- Master of None
- Irrational Anger
- Idly Scatterbrained
- Bodily Functions x 100

Those are pretty accurate, and I'm pleased. Here are the notes I make while also counting the birds I am hearing. Note how large I wrote "close door on foot." Click on it to make it bigger!

So... Time passes... We are finished working, it's about 11:00 and we're driving home. I am crashing(I'm not supposed to be crashing), and it is not pretty, I am extremely hostile, hostile toward every song that is playing, the seat belt, my shoes, everything. Everything is out to get me! I stop moving completely and eat a PB and J and things start to get better.

What to make of this? Well... I'll just put it like this: it confirmed my suspicions...

- After taking it, 2:30 may feel like 5:30, but you'll get splinched in the process.

- Luke Harangody has probably tried it(yet another reason why he'll never be as good as Hansbrough), and yes... you're life would really suck if you took this regularly.

Sigh... As with most things in life, the actual experience did not live up to the fantasy. But then again... I'm not the one writing reviews like this, so you tell me:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i tried it and the taste is alitle less than expected but all in all pretty good its about 1:00 am i took it about 11:00 im alitle more tired than in the begining but then agian ive had a full can of monster every day for 3 weeks id give it about an 8.5
10:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

whoever said its pathetic is retarted monster kicks ass NOS sux i was high wen i drank 3 of them hahahahahhahaahah
7:46 AM

Anonymous dean said...

i am now six hours out after my very first energy drink ever...this shot from monster. i took it before a hockey game, and i'm just now recovering. seriously thought i was going to have to call a doctor. shakes were so bad i couldnt type this ten minutes ago. the energy drink experts may chalk this up to my being a rookie at the energy drinks and they may be right, but for me the aftereffects were terrifying. just a word to the wise, and again in fairness i'm a 41 year old guy who is about ten pounds overweight. full disclosure.
1:02 AM

Loll... At least I spent the rest of my day like this:

One love, y'all.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Woof, Meow, and Ouch: The Dead-end Nature with which We Operate.

This post is the beginning of what promises to be a long, continuous tale. In my neighborhood, the humans share the streets, yards, and trashcans with an assortment of loose animals. Just within our block, there are dozens of cats and dogs, a scattering of horses, not to mention the giant toads, hermit crabs, and the slinking mongoose. Sitting along the street in the evening, I have built relationships with some of them, and find great amusement in finding my role in this myriad of feral beasts... and during this process I have kept a journal of my interactions, of which I'll be sharing with you. Before we get to the entries, I need to give some background of the characters. To this point, the most important players have been a trio of male cats. Our first cat to hang around us is named Hawk, and later on you'll meet two others, Harrier and Owl Cat. The overlying tension of all that happens is caused by the fact that our landlord Don Walter(who lives above us) strictly prohibits cats around the house due to the allergy of his wife...but we'll get to all of that. So, with no further adieu, let it begin... photographs will be at the end:

A cat has appeared, and he seems to be willing to come closer, unlike the other ones. The development of our relationship has been gradual, the sequence of events long and complicated. At first it was simple bribery with bacon fat, then preening. We give him pleasure in the form of company and food, and in turn he gives us company and a fun challenge. His eyes are forever critical, and his body is still constantly taut and poised to flee. Our relationship has been forged under the disapproval of our landlord who strictly prohibited cats in the vicinity, due to the allergy of his wife. I name him Hawk.

Hawk ran to the door, staring out to the street. We scampered up behind him, and through the dimness of dusk we saw a figure sitting on the curb, staring intently down towards us. It was a dark, vertical figure with two ears sticking up from his skull. The image of a long-eared owl came to mind and the name stuck. Owl Cat. Just as his existence registered we blinked and he had disappeared. Walking up the driveway to the road, we looked up and down, but saw nothing. He had disappeared. Hawk refused to leave our side, weaving between our legs, peering down the street.

Last night we were the closest ever with Hawk, having gained enough trust for him to come inside and sit alongside us, to chase down toads in front of us, even to cut loose with his youthful energy and leap onto the side of a telephone pole, only to calm down, leap off, and nudge and sway between our calves, running to catch up with us if we walked ahead.

We had to take Hawk away this morning, as Don Walter was overheard cursing and threatening to poison him with tainted tuna. Don Walter then came and yelled at us directly, telling us to stop feeding the cat and leaving the door open. We feared for his life and felt responsible for it. Phillip and I forced him in the car before dawn as we headed to Maricao Forest to bird. We drove him down the road, through a mile of undeveloped land and into Ensenada town, where we let him out by a traffic construction sign and the first houses. In the car he struggled at first, jumping onto the dashboard and throwing his head into the windows, calming down only when one of us held him in our lap, stroking his ribcage or the areas around his throat and ears. As we approached our destination he began to emit a series of heart-wrenching screams, hollow and descending, unlike anything he had made before. We tossed him out the door, drove away, and then looked back. He sat there by the side of a new road motionless... he seemed to be scarcely breathing. But we knew from having just held him that his heart was racing.

We were taking him away from the only place he had ever known, into a new, cutthroat world in which he was completely un-established. And in our heads Phillip and I agonized. We were performing the utmost betrayal, but at the same time we were trying to convince ourselves that we were doing the right thing: severance for the greater good.. but that made us feel no better.

1/21 evening
Full of guilt. Not until now did I realize that we hadn’t even fought for him, hadn’t made his case for permanence to Don Walter. Instead, we had taken him anonymously in the dark and severed our relationship. I can picture us slamming the door and driving off..

1/25/10 – 8:00 PM –
A new cat appears coming up Calle D. With distant coaxing he takes up post underneath a field vehicle by the blue trashcans. Luring with a slice of cheddar cheese gets him to come as close as 2 meters, but just for the food. Cheese is gone, mostly down his throat, and he is now perched on the curb where Hawk used to sit, his face to the road. He has also spent moments lying underneath the car. During the day a few new cats were seen, a black white and orange cat(smore), and a mostly black cat with a white throat that was feasting inside a trashcan. Optimism rises with this new cat, Harrier… though he is certainly more independent and slower to reel in than Hawk. He has now crossed the road, his camouflage is incredible. He is part rock, part threadbare grass as he chases down a toad and slips away through the brush.

I was alone in the house, sitting at the kitchen table, when I saw Owl Cat sitting by the blue trashcan on the curb. I scarcely believed my eyes, this mythic cat is virtually never seen. And now he was a stones throw away. At mid-day! I slunk to the refrigerator and pulled out a piece of ham. I tossed a few pieces his way and cautiously he stepped through the grass to eat them. The entire time I was cautious not to move, not to slam the door, my only goal being to imprint upon him a positive notion. I filled a lid with milk and placed it behind the car tire. He pretended to not be interested until I left him alone, then, as I watched through the screen door I saw him drink it up eagerly. I have attempted no physical contact, but now he is lying scarcely 5 meters from the door, his back to me, his eyes surveying the scene. I was able to grab some photographs of him.. he is a haphazard mottling of coffee and black with no pattern whatsoever. He leers with the most peculiar eyes.

1/28/10 – 6:00 PM

Hawk returns!!! While throwing stones into trashcans, we take a break and walk up the street, and as we return we see Hawk sitting by the cans. He begins to cry and meow constantly, plowing headfirst into our legs, swishing through us and giving us the utmost affection. His coat is dusty, we know he has traveled at least 1.5 miles in his return and by only two possible routes: through uninhabited inhospitable forest, or following along the treacherous road. We are overwhelmed with emotion: overjoyed, pained, and conflicted about what to do. It has to be only moments until Don Walter hears all of this screaming.

We wind up taking him away again for fear of his life, but it is a half-hearted attempt. This time we take him only .5 miles, across the neighborhood… to buy us some time before making a more serious decision. He will return. All we know is that his profuse screaming would reveal him to Don Walter all too quickly. What a cat. I love him. Maybe he thought it was a manhood test, and he was super proud to have passed it. But God. We are assholes... He's been taken away again, thrown into another random neighborhood, where he will have to pass through the bar district, full of the most massive and lunatic dogs to return. I predict his return by dawn.

Still no return from Hawk. Maybe he has died? He would only have had to come back about 0.5 miles, easy distance compared to what he did before. Owl Cat not seen in awhile. Harrier stops by the trashcan spot daily, is resting often underneath the cars, but gives no affection and I am starting to not care about him.


This is Hawk. Doing what he does best: charming.

Steely-eyed Owl Cat. Forever mysterious.

Harrier. The most regular visitor now, but completely unwilling to bond.

A cat seen only once. Frightening.

Our dog for one night... until Don Walter chased it away with rocks. He still stops by occasionally.

So when you're in a place that hardly rains and is surrounded by salt water, where do homeless animals drink from? Thankfully, there are random puddles of household runoff everywhere. . . Yum Yum.

And there are some big ass poisonous toads. The animals like to chase/eat the little ones, but once they are full grown, like this one, the toads are the ones doing the eating.

And there are some big ass hermit crabs, this one stuntin' on the kitchen table.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Constant Vigilance

Be careful who you let in your bedroom, they might bite you.
When it comes to bedroom guests, looks can sometimes be deceiving. But sometimes, they are exactly who they look to be... for better or worse.

This needs no further proof when Scolopendra angulata is discovered beneath your resting laundry...

Thankfully, it was sufficiently ill to allow removal and, in turn... a full hour of prodding and photo-shooting before being chucked into the shrubbery.

Jaws of death. Or at least jaws of excruciating pain. The result of all this? Not a whole lot... just that I am a little less enthusiastic about walking to the potty in the pitch black.

In the words of Mad-Eye Moody... CONSTANT VIGILANCE.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Seed of Chucky

Thankfully, in the wilds of Puerto Rico there are fairly few life threatening creatures - there are no jaguars, there are no bushmasters, there are fairly few murderous fellows. Thus, when I am trodding through the forest on a daily basis, I can afford to be a bit more reckless. I can stick my foot behind a root or slide down a hill on my butt.... but I'm starting to learn that there are new perils, perils I had never ever considered. Yes. I have borne witness to a new and deadly foe.

And so the story begins...

A couple days ago I was going down a stream bed to a survey point with my field partner. We had passed under barbed wire fences and descended into relative remoteness, and as we did so I thought to myself that if I were anywhere else, I would be somewhat concerned for my life. Something might attack me. But nay... here there are no creatures in the woodland depths any larger than a rat. Nothing can surprise me. Or so I thought. As I came into a clearing by the streamside I came across a most startling discovery. It was this:

What the...? Okay, an abandoned house isn't that strange, but wait, there's something weird about these horses, besides the fact that they are approaching me rapidly. Let me look closer at that white one.

Uh. And this one t00?

At first I wasn't certain what was going on. Were these members of a rare, barbie race of forest pony? Had the Rastafarians crossed from Jamaica and infiltrated the equines?

Well... kind of! The truth is this. As one came to feed on my shirt, I got a close look at its perm. They had suffered from an attack of seed pods. Sticking their heads deep into the grasses, they had emerged worse for the wear.
I have grown accustomed to having a ton of seed pods clinging to my legs when I return to the house. I spend a few minutes using my humanoid fingers to pull them off... and by the end I'm even vaguely enjoying the whole process. But these horses, afflicted with the same plight, are unable to groom themselves and in turn have become ostracized hermits.

But, seriously, let's not be too hard on them. It looks pretty good doesn't it?

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Picture Says a Thousand Words

We should all bow to cliches.

But I often feel pressure to avoid them in conversation, knowing that I'll be scoffed at for being cliche. But then I realize that they are what they are for a reason... They have a reputation, an automatic reaction, because they always hit close to home. You know, if the shoe fits wear it! Where there's smoke, there's fire!

One such cliche is A picture says a thousand words. So, what can I do but prove it? Here are some Puerto Rican photos, with a few spare comments... you know, something to sink your teeth into. Remember that you can click on the photos to make them bigger!

The first two photos are from the back porch of our "research station." AKA, two apartments connected by a balcony in the town of Playa Santa. Anyways, this balcony is the icing on top of some terrific accomodations, full of wireless internet, showers, satellite TV, air-conditioning... things I usually only dream of while working jobs like these. Anyways, the balcony is perfect for birding, relaxation, work, whatever. But most importantly, a breeze and natural lighting.

We will continue the tour with some looks at the rest of the island... or at least what I have seen so far. The picture below is facing north, with the mountainous center of the island visible. There doesn't seem to be many flat spots in this place, its volcanic past has left it hilly and winding.

The final sequence of photographs will be from up in the mountains. Here, unlike in the dry forests of our home, there is often dense cloud cover and rain showers, and because of this... there is rain forest. The trees are full of color and fruit with coffee plantations scattered amongst them.

Below is the famous breadfruit, or pana... a staple of the tropical diet worldwide.

Oh... and don't forget the beaches.

So, that's it for now. We all know Rome wasn't built in a day! But don't fret there is more coming. You can count on it, lock stock and barrel.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Possessed As a Gun Charge

There has been a long break since I last posted and there are a few things you should know. First, you can kiss substitute teaching goodbye and can send all the Carolina muttering into the sunset. Second, it is a new year. Third, I'm still the same.

NEways...I am now operating in Puerto Rico. Before I begin the documentation, I better give U some backdrop, just in case u are clueless, as in, geographically challenged, as in... where is Puerto Rico? Thanks to Google and the South Plains Church of Christ missionary trips website, I found a map online to show you.

Here is a zoom in.

I am in the SW at the Guanica forest on the map. This side of the island is the dry side not the jungle side, due to the rain shadow caused by the central mountain ranges. Dryness is goodness when the days are upper 80s and sunny, and especially so while perched along the Caribbean shores. The hillsides are covered in dry forest, a conglomeration of prickles, pods, and compound leaves... The towns are filled with caramel skin, surf boards, and wandering dogs... The countryside full of cattle, bananas, and rusting history.

Now... the next question to be flushed out of the brush is this: What am I doing here? Well, technically, I am... working with birds. Shocker! But still not specific enough. The goal of our work is this: to assess the habitat viability in the area between Guanica and Susua Forests.. to see if there is movement of individuals between the forests, and to see if connecting the two through a corridor is possible, or if birds are already moving fluidly between them. So, we spend the mornings going to points in between the forests, counting what we hear or see. More or less. Later in the Spring I will be assisting with two other related projects, including using telemetry to track the movements of Puerto Rican Bullfinches in the area.

Soooooo, all this background stuff was just for the most inquisitive folk. My posts won't be all about the birds, they'll be about everything... that oddment in the grocery store, that peculiarity in the hills, that online meditation.

All I can promise is that you won't be waiting long.