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  • June | 2015 | Dispersal Range
    lashed summits in every direction Chocolate dried mango and satisfaction made a feast day And then we turned around and headed home again making it back down to the cars in about another five and a half hours If you add up our ascent summit and descent times you will arrive at 14 hours car to car This is enough time to sweat through your shirt once twice thrice and then again enough time for strangers to become if not exactly friends then partners of a wild and vital kind who sense each other s lightness and debility through strands of rope But it is not enough not really to allow for the glory of how close you re getting to the sky I was the slowest of the six of us and I ll admit that this was hard The slowest climber in a group is always moving just a little faster than her own capacity to keep from falling too much more behind She rests the least and if she is like me frets the most And yet climbing as far and fast as I did this week was more than I could ever have imagined four short long years ago I m stronger than I was and more forgiving when I fail to live up to my expectations for myself or to the standards that I steal from others without meaning to I don t give up and though I grunt and pant and sometimes cry I don t give in to my frustration Days like Thursday I still find a lump in my throat when I can t go as fast as my companions and it s hard to speak to tell them not to worry but even so I think I m better company Afterward though Those 14 hours shook awake the memory of how I fell in love with these great blue heights these sharp green places half a world away on my first summer out I was not so strong and not so fast But being a little weak and slow was also I think now a kind of gift I was alone and didn t push and gave myself allowance for the strangeness and the glory of it all There s gold in them hills I think I need to seek it out again This entry was posted in Shorts and tagged life place stray and unscientific on June 28 2015 by Meera Lee Sethi Search for Recent Posts There s Gold in Them Hills Today Yesterday A Brief Announcement or Misadventures in Metaphor How to Cheer Your Future Self Up A Simple 4 Step Plan Sympatico Birds and Words Brian Leli Clerestories Notes from Near and Far Stephen Rutt Tiny Aviary Wild Muse Wingtrip On the Coyot es Network Some reasons I have been called a radical environmentalist Coyote Crossing Published on September 19 2015 by Chris Clarke On Forgetting My Field Guide Birds and Words Published on September 16 2015

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/dispersalrange/2015/06/ (2015-09-25)
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  • March | 2015 | Dispersal Range
    comes I think let me be as dogged On Friday it had been three days and I had reached the stage of comradeship I was also tired of trying to teach myself R while the headache gathered its resources and equally tired of the bed I got dressed for a run even though I knew it was a bad idea I just wanted to be outside Two miles in I had already stopped twice to grip my head in my hands for a minute before resuming a pointless thing you do because it feels as if pushing back on the pulsing must be a way to quiet it It isn t of course But running jags pain so I walked to smooth the headache s sawteeth I run around the lake all the time but when you run it s hard to take in more from the periphery than the occasional rotary phone ring of a Red winged Blackbird in the rushes or the delicate coughing of a tea party of Coots on the water I walk around the lake with Ross sometimes but then we re often talking and talking turns you inward This walk was slow to placate the headache and quiet because I d nothing more to say to it I spent a long time looking at the bark on a single Silver Birch which had the appearance of a sheet of white ice stopped in the midst of cracking and to which all kinds of things of interest were attached Amid the greenshield and the oakmoss was what looked like an adult crane fly that had lost its battle to escape from a web all crumpled stilt legs and sailor striped abdomen and tracing paper wings There was another Dipterid alive and well its body a dusty terracotta orange and wings a mosaic of scotch tape A Black capped Chickadee was making noise above and since I learned to love them in Chicago I was as always here disconcerted to hear its clear descending Ohhh well replaced with a faint tremolo I wondered if that ever would seem right A little further on a flock of Audubon s warblers with egg yolk rumps and throats spilled whistles as they circled the canopy of a cedar like Cinderella s helpers laying tinsel Everything seemed to be in that cedar at once though a lot of that was surely the ventriloquism that all birds practice without effort I heard House Finches and Song Sparrows and Brown Creepers and both colors of hyperactive Kinglets not to mention Juncoes trilling like spring alarms that no one can snooze Crows of course were ubiquitous but I never tire of their chest dipping caws or their roulette ball clatter The headache was no longer the only thing keeping time I kept stopping to look at things in odd places and sometimes people then stopped to look at me It happened with a Great Blue Heron which I watched for about 15 minutes

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/dispersalrange/2015/03/ (2015-09-25)
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  • February | 2015 | Dispersal Range
    tropes are pretty enough when they fit and as a writer I am used to trafficking in them and shaping thoughts around them a task which sometimes feels dangerously backward as if images are more important than the ideas they represent But the truth is I ve been trying to share this with you for a while and metaphors are only getting in my way So I ll just say it plainly because it is news that doesn t need much of a flourish I m starting a PhD in Biology at the University of Washington this fall It does deserve an exclamation point I m delighted and honored to say that I ll be joining a wonderful and very productive lab run by plant community ecologist Janneke Hille Ris Lambers The Hille Ris Lambers lab conducts research that broadly speaking attempts to discover the mechanisms driving biodiversity productivity and community assembly and to predict the effects of climate change on a variety of ecological patterns and processes at the species and community level People in the lab study all kinds of things within this framework many of them working on Mount Rainier because the mountainside provides a useful as well as beautiful system for studying change along an elevational environmental gradient I m not sure yet of the exact shape of the project I ll propose but I know Janneke s lab will be a fantastic place to pose some version of the basic question that most interests me What role do interactions between species play in determining responses to climate change I have lots of ideas most of which will likely turn out to be bad ones but fortunately the program builds in a little bit of time about a year to read learn and come up with a study design that stands a good chance of working For now here I am I know that very soon I ll be engaged in a tremendously difficult long term endeavor much more difficult than getting into grad school in the first place And I can t wait to get started But this week I m mainly working on trying to memorize the nomenclature of ethers epoxides and thioethers I m studying for an exam about leaf energy budgets plant water relations and ecosystem modeling And I m collecting more things I know I don t know with every paper I read It doesn t feel like molting or like migrating It feels besides terrifying quite right We ll see This entry was posted in Shorts and tagged change life school work on February 24 2015 by Meera Lee Sethi Search for Recent Posts There s Gold in Them Hills Today Yesterday A Brief Announcement or Misadventures in Metaphor How to Cheer Your Future Self Up A Simple 4 Step Plan Sympatico Birds and Words Brian Leli Clerestories Notes from Near and Far Stephen Rutt Tiny Aviary Wild Muse Wingtrip On the Coyot es Network Some reasons I have been

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/dispersalrange/2015/02/ (2015-09-25)
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  • December | 2014 | Dispersal Range
    flycatchers the field mark distinguishes between and here s his follow up which includes a great set of photos and points out a marvelous recent coincidence that will explain the origin of the specimen you see below Not FMNH 472922 I should note that Josh is terrific and well worth following in general He writes about odd museum y discoveries and active scientific efforts with equal pleasure and knowledgeability I can t seem to find a unique address for his writing that s more specific than the one for the Field Museum s general blog but this link will tell you more about Josh and point you to what he s published most recently I realize of course that if I hadn t prepped FMNH 472922 someone else would have and quite possibly they d have done a better job of it But it s still pretty exciting to have a first hand proof of the mantra everyone who s involved in a natural history collection knows You can never predict how or when something will come in useful Every specimen has the potential to one day contribute to our understanding of the world As does every human being no matter how sorry for herself she might occasionally feel It s taken a while but I m finally competent at predicting the courses of substitution and elimination reactions of alkanes Miracle of miracles as the tailor sang This entry was posted in Shorts and tagged birds identity knowing museum science in action on December 4 2014 by Meera Lee Sethi Search for Recent Posts There s Gold in Them Hills Today Yesterday A Brief Announcement or Misadventures in Metaphor How to Cheer Your Future Self Up A Simple 4 Step Plan Sympatico Birds and Words Brian Leli Clerestories Notes from

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/dispersalrange/2014/12/ (2015-09-25)
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  • November | 2014 | Dispersal Range
    basic science AND it s highly applicable to our immediate efforts to preserve both the vanishing jaguar population and the ecosystems where they play a vital role as top predators PLUS it supports the work of Conservation Canines in general so apart from anything else you ll be helping to save the lives of rescue dogs and give them purposeful work Jen with one of the Conservation Canines I stole this picture from the project page Apologies that I don t know who to credit for it That s my pitch about the value of this research My other pitch is about how much I think Jen specifically deserves your support First of all she s very experienced with this type of research she s been working on projects involving large carnivores tropical habitats and scat surveys for many years so she knows exactly what she s doing and any funding she receives is going to be efficiently used Secondly I know her because she TAs my ecology class at UW and she happens to be incredibly good at that She leads our lab sessions with great enthusiasm knowledgeability and finesse and I ve learned a lot from her explanations Finally Jen is a fantastic person as well as a determined scientist A few weeks ago I made an appointment with her to talk about my grad school plans and she sat with me for nearly two hours in the middle of what was an incredibly demanding week for her At the end of it I felt like I had gotten an enormous education in approaching the application and decision processes as well as sharp insight into how to thrive as a grad student I was also moved by Jen s generosity and kindness If you re reading this and you don t happen to be the kind of person who likes looking at poop then you re probably a person who knows and loves me and wants to support my future success I can tell you that meeting Jen has directly contributed to my chances of achieving that success So even if you couldn t care less about jaguars or dogs or conservation if you care about me that s a pretty good reason to support her I m pushing this so hard because the Experiment com model like Kickstarter s only funds projects if they reach the goals they ve set so if Jen doesn t get to 10 000 in the next 9 days she ll lose everything she has raised so far I think that would be a tremendous shame One last thing Even if you can only spare a small amount in support your modest backing will go twice as far because every new donation from now on will be matched dollar for dollar till the end of the funding period Please consider making a contribution If you do and we re ever in the same city at the same time ping me and I

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/dispersalrange/2014/11/ (2015-09-25)
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  • September | 2014 | Dispersal Range
    a first come first served camping shelter Five or six other parties were at the top when we arrived including a pair of young backpackers who had been lucky enough they told us to nab the space just as its previous occupants were leaving The couple had arranged their sleeping bags and foodstuffs in the lookout a little wooden cabin tethered to the rocks at very nearly 7 000 feet and were now sitting just outside it Ross before me hesitated on the doorstep The lookout was of course public property but even at that height a certain canon of possession held Go on in the couple said with jovial magnanimity a relief to me since a trip report I had read about this hike made mention of a party that had commandeered the house and tried to prevent day hikers from entering the lookout even for a peek Go take a look And so we did And as we entered both of us entirely involuntarily gasped Oh my god Here s what we saw I m not sure if these pictures made you gasp too It s hard for me to know how I would feel about them if I didn t have in my mind the memory of what it was like to step over that small threshold onto clean peeling floorboards thinking of nothing in particular except the sun and the air feeling only a mild curiosity about what the inside of a fire lookout might be like and to all of a sudden see that view through those windows It was quite genuinely breathtaking Not that the view outside the lookout s walls had been less breathtaking at least it made no sense for that to be the case By definition what you could see through the windows was circumscribed and what you could see outside was not Nothing ought to have been more spectacular than the 360 degree panorama we had beheld from the exterior turning on our heels and back again until we all but lost our balance A few pieces of wood and glass ought not to have improved on our eyes best evidence And yet as soon as you walked through that doorway something made you gasp It happened in exactly the same way to the people who stepped in as we stepped out a stopping in their tracks a sharp inhalation Oh my god a woman said Reemerging from the lookout I was slightly irritated by the extra awe I d felt on entering the structure It took me a while to understand At first I thought it must be something about the way the windows framed the mountains perhaps they gave the overwhelming beauty of the scene some shape I speculated Perhaps they somehow emphasized the vastness of the landscape by placing onto it a sense of human scale making the peaks seem even bigger and more majestic than they already were There may be something in that but now

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/dispersalrange/2014/09/ (2015-09-25)
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  • April | 2014 | Dispersal Range
    tagged life place stray and unscientific on April 30 2014 by Meera Lee Sethi We Knew Him by Meera Lee Sethi 5 Replies Power is a strange and misunderstood thing We tend to think we have very little we tend to believe it is by rule or nature wielded by others over us When we grasp it we do so with fervor as if it could slip from our grasp It is true that those who hold power are often masters or monied or men But the word is smaller too and some of what it possesses is mere ability To be powerful is to do what is possible for you Several years ago I passed some time as the editor of a smart quirky now defunct online science magazine One of our problems was a near total lack of money and therefore a dearth of regular contributors but I did occasionally receive queries of varying quality One letter arrived from a Portland based freelance writer on a Friday afternoon in October 2010 The poor woman who wrote it had been misled by a pamphlet to which she subscribed into thinking that we were a children s magazine and both the email and her cheerful pun and exclamation point filled 660 word submission were entitled A Slug is Not a Bug There was something of a supplication in her tone that I have not forgotten She entreated me not to dismiss her subject despite its lowly stature in the world She assured me she had done her research She hoped I would read the entire article I wrote back politely explaining that we did not publish material written specifically for children and that was the end of that But oddly enough I have thought about her email several times in the intervening years She was professional this woman or anyway as professional as she had learned so far to be She was as hopeful as I was myself I have no doubt she wanted more out of her life To be a children s writer to be published To be taken seriously I have had so little power in my life it has seemed to me But there were things that were possible Ross and I had a gorgeous day today up in Marin County hiking 11 miles along a coastal trail in Point Reyes National Seashore The ground was exploding with the purple of Pacific Coast irises and the air with wrentit and golden crowned sparrow song The sea below the bluffs crashed ecstatically onto the shore It smelled like fenugreek it smelled like ocean It smelled like wild mustard steaming and vegetal We found the flat imprint of the shell of a marine mollusc on one half of a broken stone We talked about the future and the beautiful possibilities Ross s career success is about to provide us with We also met a slug We met this particular banana slug Ariolimax californicus eating steadily away at what

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/dispersalrange/2014/04/ (2015-09-25)
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  • March | 2014 | Dispersal Range
    but I find it difficult to note it here for some reason perhaps that it requires telling you about one of the parts of myself I find the ugliest The past 14 months have been good ones and because of that and possibly because I now realize of the medication I ve been on this ugliness has not manifested itself very much at all But it surfaced this past Saturday while I was studying for an upcoming physics exam and struggling to call upon the concepts and equations I ve been learning quickly enough to solve my list of practice problems in a reasonably finite period of time And it surfaced on the drive back from Sunol yesterday when I made several wrong navigation moves in a row on a busy highway Ugliness in this case is a sudden blooming unhappiness a kind of black choler rising in me like a force of nature or at least that is how I thought about it for most of my life Ugliness is the choler itself which is usually triggered by the sense that I ve done something wrong or that something has gone wrong It is also a secondary sense of outrage and panic about being infected with this feeling and the desire to cut it out of myself as expeditiously as possible And it is the almost automatic projection of both of these unhappinesses onto someone else preferably in a way that has them wronging me so that even if I have to be miserable it doesn t have to be my fault I was alone when it happened on Saturday so Physics Itself took the brunt of my projected unhappiness which was quite mild anyway and fortunately didn t last very long because I had to shut my books and head off to meet an old friend I noticed the choler though because it had been so long since I had felt it Huh I thought It s you I haven t missed you It felt a little like a slipping On Sunday of course Ross was next to me in the car It wasn t exactly pleasant for either of us but I m very glad to be able to tell you that even without the smoothing benefits of a serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor and even though I could feel the ugliness growing like a little massif between my ribs the whole thing blew over within a couple of minutes My old friend hasn t changed but I have After an initial convulsion of frustration I clued Ross who d been understandably mainly focused on helping us navigate safely home in on what was happening with me It took several minutes more before I could say I was no longer angry or unhappy or vehemently desirous of not being in the wrong but I didn t push those things onto him and I didn t gorge myself on them There was a space between where I was right

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/dispersalrange/2014/03/ (2015-09-25)
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