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28 November 2001 - 22:39

fun profession

Another meeting today.

This one was the annual meeting of the state chapter of our professional society. Educational, but also fun. And the interstate was only about 40 percent ice, with no stupid drivers. Made the drive in just under an hour and a half.

Ran two quick surveys of what I could count in the room. First was 38 males and 12 females (24 percent female), and the second was 45 males and 15 females (25 percent). Female counts seemed low.

First speaker was Harry. He began by pointing out that he had decided to change the title of his presentation, and warned us that "before I am done, I will offend somebody in the room and I will not apologize, because they need to be offended."


He pointed out that research is not management... it is just a way of delaying a decision. And concluded that most wildlife problems exist "because there are too damn many of us" (as in humans) and that some of us "just need to put a cork in it." Somewhere in his talk he included a scream.


Second speaker also changed the subject of his talk. Third speaker made a point to mention that he had not changed his topic, and would speak on what they had asked him to address. This retired ecology professor pointed out he had neglected to take the long-term view in his professional life. Many of the students he had harassed and exhausted in his classes are now game wardens, responsible for monitoring his compliance while hunting and fishing in his retirement, and he wanted to take this opportunity to apologize.

Had some serious discussions. Like the fact that the endangered Preble's meadow jumping mouse occupies the same range and habitats as the endangered Colorado butterfly plant. And yet, whatever is done to protect one endangered species will destroy the other. So, what to do?

Speakers provided the session chairmen with short biographies, which included a request for interesting "tidbits" from their life. The sage-grouse researcher advised he had once grown a 2" nose hair.


And it was reported to the session as such.

One female speaker interlaced her presentation with inspirational quotes. Liked this one from John Muir: "In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks."

The annual report from the student chapter of the society mentioned that some students considered the high point of their trip to Montana to be spending the night in Ted Turner's shed.

Their annual "Beast Feast" is 8 December, at Rob's house (I believe). All are welcome, with a donation expected. Best and worst wild game dishes will be voted upon. Last year's "worst" was the "double 'D', double 'S' " stew (duck, dove, snipe & squirrel).

At one of the breaks, one of the single male members asked me if I thought we should quit meeting in University Town, since so many young, attractive females attend. Told him, being married, I liked the scenery, and was not bothered by it.

Sounds like he's in for a long winter already.

This year they tried to get really "professional," and split the research presentations into two simultaneous sessions in adjacent rooms. Requires precise timing of presentations to keep the two sessions synchronized so folks can move back and forth to their selections.

Didn't always work.

They planned ahead and had two slide projectors and a spare. But two of them promptly cratered, so the sole functioning projector had to be moved back and forth between rooms.

More than half of the speakers used Powerpoint presentations. A few got off without a hitch, most did not. One, a woman reporting on ocelot food habits in Mexico (hey, Silver, ever been to Chamela - Cuixmala Biosphere Reserve?) waited patiently for more than her alloted time period just to get hers started.

That allowed our session to take the afternoon break early, so we got most of the chunky chocolate chip cookies. Folks in the other session got stuck with the plain sugar cookies.

Had a friend in college who did a similar study with coyotes. You collect the scat, wash away all the biodegradable "excreta", and analyze the bones and hairs that are left. My friend put her coyote scat samples in little nylon baggies and used washing machines and driers at a coin-operated laundromat.

One of the researchers worked on foraging energetics of scaup in San Francisco Bay. Study required her and her assistant to collect, weigh and analyze the "excreta" from selected ducks every hour on the hour for 48 hours straight.

We have a fun profession.

Really enjoyed a report on telemetry work with the midget faded rattlesnake. They will occasionally use different dens for the winter. If our prairie species does the same, there is hope for Ninebuttons and her kin.

Masked heeler has x-rays scheduled for tomorrow, so I skipped the happy hour(s), banquet and subsequent happy hour(s) and came home in time for dinner. Regret missing the socializing, actually one of the main benefits of the meeting. But the roads are supposed to be horrible tomorrow, so I may be grateful for the vet appointment.

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