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HpyOuiZl

Just a field botanist and wildlife biologist sharing an assortment of daily bits, random thoughts, and adventures while working to improve writing.

A return

I have been away too long. The summer field season drained me in ways I did not expect and made it so I had very little energy to do much else other than work and sleep with the occasional eat. I did get to see some gorgeous landscapes but even those I did not get to enjoy in a way I would have liked. On the plus side, I am just starting a new job, that isn't just a field season but will get to do field work all year long. I will have office work to do, too, but I can manage that. it is all...
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Halfway through

Halfway through my field season and I can't say I am enjoying myself.  I was very excited for this season. Wetter season == more plants. Unfortunately, it is slim pickings for field technicians. Even more unfortunate was getting one without a good science background.  No concept of quality data or following protocols.  Also lacking in understanding what biasing data means. A lack of honesty doesn't help either.  I have worked with other techs that were a bit difficult and lacking in skills.  Thi...
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Field Season Chaos

Been a little since my last post but I went through an assortment of trainings and a few hitches in the field. This season is going to be a bit rough. Smaller crew, fresher crew (no previous experience), and a wild weather season. This is the second season in my career where flooding of sites has become an issue. Last year, it was drought, heat, and fire hazards. This year it is grasslands submerged in water, washed out roads, and dirt roads of clay you can easily get stuck for days on if the...
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Screaming Kids

I have been taking regular walks to help prepare myself for my upcoming season. There will be a lot of hiking so I am trying to get some decent distance traveled every day I can. Unfortunately, the recent weather has kept me in town, mostly on paved paths. Today I went around a couple parks. One commonly has families and people running dogs or horses. I was walking by today and heard some kids screaming in an area with some people working with horses in a stable. Figured it was the usual busin...
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The Field Gear Saga

My goal has been to make sure I have all the gear I need to purchase done and in my possession a few weeks before I start. All to eliminate the need for last minute purchases. This effort has become a really odd series of events. I ordered a set of items from a surplus place, big thing I need is a pack as I have one that is too small for my gear and the field gear and one that is pretty much overkill for a day pack and will be my primary gear pack. Find the items I want all in one place and dec...
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Field Botanists Excitement

Within the birding community, there is a lot of talk of the First of the Year (FOY) bird when a new year starts.  I get excited the moment I see new growth emerge on plants. Or in this case, the first flowers of the year(FFOY I guess).  Granted, it is almost all invasive species right now but it just means I will have species to look at soon and work to start. I already have my books laid out to review for work and am waiting for my last bit of new gear to arrive so I can start putting my field ...
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Field Biologist Term of the Day: Hacking

There is no technology involved in this variety of hacking. In fact, it may be completely absent if one is in the field and far from any sort of connection to the world. In this case, it has to do with the inevitable breakdown of gear. Duct tape (the good kind) is our best friend. Tent poles cracked, duct tape with maybe a stick to stabilize. Hole in a shoe or article of clothing, duct tape. Our field gear can be difficult/costly to replace and in the field impossible even if it is required to ...
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Field Preparations Commence

Now that school is over for this term, I can start preparing for the upcoming season. It may be weeks away but gear needing repair or replacement needs to be addressed ASAP. I'll admit I am a little concerned I will be unprepared since this will be my first season full season backcountry hitches. I won't get the hotel stays or grocery store runs as I did during previous seasons. I have to plan 8+ days of food and gear so it will be a challenge. I am not the greatest food planner. Some new/re...
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The Hovering

I think I am starting to lose my mind. To say I am irritable might be a bit of an understatement. I'm not exactly sure what is going on. I'm not in a big town by any means. Almost safe to say in the middle of nowhere.  A good 2 hours trip to the biggest nearby "city." Since yesterday, mid-morning, there has been, what sounds like at least, a helicopter just hovering around. I can hear it over a fan and through my window. It hasn't stopped.  I heard it all night.  I can hear it move, so it gets q...
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Foot protection

I am almost to the point where I think I need kevlar socks to walk around my living areas. I have yet to verify what plant is producing these evil, little, spiky balls but man do I keep finding them. Walking barefoot is a hazard right now. I just pulled another one of these little daggers out of my foot. Drew blood this time. I would even prefer LEGOs to be all over my floor instead of these, that is how bad they are. I know the purpose of the spiky ball is for transportation of seeds, but...
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Procrastination incoming

In my head, the excuse for this entry is to allow my brain a little bit of processing time for an assignment that I am having a little difficulty with.  The reality, of course, is I am procrastinating since it is going to be a mind-numbing slog of an assignment.   Due to my field of work putting me in grasslands frequently, I started taking courses in relation to their ecology and conservation management.  They are also used as rangelands frequently so there is the management of livestock as we...
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The joys of automated grading

I'm all for technology making things easier but sometimes I just can't help but wonder why some things happen. I've been doing courses online for awhile now and I can go a term or two without having any issues and then there is the one term where issues are everywhere. The biggest one is the automated grading process. Taking a quiz or test online can be obnoxious enough but add in the weird quirks of the automated systems and I end up staring at my screen and questioning why on earth somethin...
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New Year, New Things

I am in a gear upgrade mode this year.  A good portion of my field gear(tent, camp stove, cooler) has seen multiple seasons of hard wear and tear.  While still in good condition, the time approaches that an upgrade would be a good thing.  Spending weeks at a time out of a tent in all variety of weather conditions really puts a lot of stress on the fabric and the supports. There is also the factor of size.  When you are trying to do paperwork or enter date into a tablet or laptop in a tiny tent t...
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Almost over

2021 is almost to it's end. I can say it has been a bit of a wild ride for me with work and life in general. I am looking forward to 2022 right now. I already have work lined up in my preferred field with a pay boost along with it. Next year will bring plenty more botany posts and hopefully more regular posting again. I needed some down time after a long season and some draining work towards the end. current mood: #relaxingweasel ...
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People are Weird

I can enjoy some unusual folks. Many would say I am unusual. I will go on a long hitch of a field season that is basically months of car camping and I will be bringing a handheld game system with me or a bunch of previously downloaded manga/anime to enjoy while chilling in my hammock. I have done GIS work at random picnic tables using a mobile hotspot (I don't recommend this but gotta do what you gotta do). I will put holiday lights on my tent if I am camping around the holidays or just for fun...
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Dust in the wind...and everywhere else

Living and working in a semi-arid environment means dust everywhere. Add in a drought and it means even more dust. I have to wipe down everything in my apartment once a week if I do not want dust buildup. I get lazy when I am busy with work and let it slide. The accumulation gets noticed when I see something that is supposed to be black is not black anymore. Wipe down a shelf and the layer returns the next day. I am down to one slightly functional fan. The motors burn out fairly quickly wit...
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Field Botanist Term of the Day: Symbol

When collecting data on plant species composition, it is ideal to use the scientific name for plants as the common names* can vary by region. The symbol, or sometimes referred to as code, is a short hand way of identifying a plant species.  The USDA symbol is a 4 to 6 alpha-numeric code for each plant species.  These can add to some fun antics in the field, especially after long days in the sun looking down at the same things over and over.  These codes do form words of their own.  For instance,...
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Oops, My Bad

When places start getting short of staff, weird things happen.  Unfortunately, COVID is plowing through the office I have been based out of.  Lots of people out sick due to having it or exposure.  So I am making a mad dash to finish up the data work by the deadline.  I haven't been doing lunch this week which might be a no-no but I haven't been hungry and timelines are tight.  Also, the anxiety of the pandemic probably isn't helping. I hope I get some bonus points or an actual bonus out of this....
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Field Botanist Term of the Day: Senesce

Just as it is in the general definition, senesce is when plants wither. It is the end of the life cycle for those plants that are annuals. For perennials, this is when the seeds drop in hopes to bring about the next generation. This period tends to signify the end of the field season. There are very few plants to look at during the late fall and winter months in colder climates. ...
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The Insect Invasion

There are a wide variety of insects that like to emerge in force during different times of year. Right now, I am dealing with a late season invasion from a certain insect that thrives on maple trees. They like to cluster in warm areas and invade homes to over winter. My current apartment has far too many ways for these little flying terrors to get inside. Being attracted to light and heat, these insects hang out on any light source. There is even one crawling on top of my screen as I type t...
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Field Botanist Term of the Day: Prickle

Not to be confused with a thorn, these outgrowths on a plant are easily detached from the surface and do no damage to the plant. They are a protective feature of the plant and also very likely to get stuck in ones clothing or skin if touched or accidentally sat upon. (I have had them in my rear unfortunately) I am currently pulling little prickles out of my hands and my knees from the field day. Some are only felt when I brush across something and I need a loupe to actually see it to remove ...
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Getting back into it

I took a little longer away from here than I had been planning but there has been a push to get last bits of data collected before the end of the season. The days have been long and the heat just doesn't want to full go away. The subtle tease of proper fall and then the simmering heat of summer creeps back in. As much of a plant person that I am, the cooler temperatures of fall and snows in winter are not coming soon enough. The biting insects are even making a final push of the year. The f...
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Field Botanist Term of the Day: Green-Up

This term may not be just within the field of botany but in this case it is something that I was very much looking forward to this year. Green up is a second push of green vegetation, usually the cool season plants. This does happen more frequently in locations that are considered semi-arid or arid. The drier summer months will lead to crispy, brown vegetation. Late summer or early fall will bring a little more precipitation that gives a boost to the cooler, springtime vegetation so they have...
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Oh technology

We are so dependent on technology anymore that when there are little glitches it can compromise any workflow.  My current situation is preparing for my next term of higher education.  It seems that a recent update for a certain OS is breaking all the things.  Granted this is my cheap, mainstream device so I am not too concerned.  It will still do what I need it to do, thankfully, but with just a hint of annoyance when it decides to be tempermental. Just some minor inconveniences that will hopefu...
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Anxiety driven co-workers

Co-workers with high anxiety that, while you respect their knowledge, question what you are doing can cause anxiety all around. I can understand the indecisiveness and even being concerned your are doing something correctly but sometimes you have to trust yourself and your coworkers to not be a general fuck up all the time. Today is one of those days that the anxiety ridden co-worker questioned and didn't trust my work. I am confident in what I do but when the job is challenging it is very ea...
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All the chemicals

I was traveling mostly for work last year amid the pandemic. I tried to camp out as much as possible to avoid as many people as I could. One of the big things I saw was a huge influx of new campers that had no idea what they were doing. Some couldn't figure out their tents or the way to level their RV. Some legitimately brought their living room with them and set it up outside with the television included. I saw several put their food stuffs haphazardly out on a picnic table overnight or dur...
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Insecurities

Feeling insecure can put a bit of strain on any job. I had my boss come out with me for the first time since early on in the season and I was feeling very unsure of my work even though I know I am doing my job well given the difficulties of identifying plant species when everything hasn't had water in months. It also doesn't help they were trying to improve how things were being done and making sure I didn't miss out on something or misidentify something. Your boss looking over your shoulder d...
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Resume Building

It becomes a challenge when you decide to switch industries.  Catering the resume to the job can be a real chore.  Applying for a federal position is even worse.  After years of trying to make a resume as condensed as possible only to turn around and make it include EVERYTHING you have ever done even if it was just a few times, My humble two page resume that includes references is going to become a beast to look through. Going back and trying to list out everything I have done working for nonpro...
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Staying fluid

I have always chuckled when an interviewer for a job talks about flexibility being necessary for the position. After years of nonprofit work and working with kids/animals I'd say my ability to be flexible is well honed. Here, it is called staying fluid as flexible is still too rigid. I am not going to lie, I really like the phrase. A change of plans occurred three times today and going with the flow is the only way that number of shifts is manageable. This whole season is a lesson in being fluid...
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Fields of smoke

One of the pleasures of doing fieldwork is being able to enjoy the scenery. This year, the scenery is shrouded in smoke. A location I surveyed this week liket has amazing views off into the distance of rolling hills and rocky outcrops. A radius of ~2km is all I could see. Shadows of distant hills barely visible through the smoke. On top of all of this my sinuses are raging due to allergies. The congestion is leading to sinus headaches and puffy, tender face. I am ready for fire season to end...
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