Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Under the Wire

Well, it's getting down to the midnight hour. A new year just around the corner, the wife and I are having a quiet evening home, and I'm not ready to flip on Dick Clark or Carson-whoever just yet. That usually happens 15 seconds to midnight so we can watch ball drop and celebrate at the same time as everyone else.

When I said a quiet evening home I meant really quiet. Reina was tucked into bed around 9:00, the wife fell asleep on the couch so I'm taking advantage to squeeze in one last post for 2008. I expect it will be different than my past posts, no images, no recounting of a specific birding trip.

Nah, since I've got some unexpected free time and I'm not sure where my head's at right now I'm not sure exactly what'll come out, but I am looking for some closure on 2008. And to upload my 100th post for 2008, I just can't leave it at 99! (Note to Mike at I feel for you with your year list halting one shy of 400, I hope you can retrofit one more bird!)

I don't really feel like clicking through the through the 99 posts I published in 2008 (though you are more than welcome to, they're all over there in the right-hand column in the archives), but I'll offer a few highlights from the year. In complete candor, I'm not sorry to see this year end, it was pretty much a downer on several fronts. But there were highlights:
  • I became an uncle back in April when Maddie Rose was born. That's my sister's first, so it's my first time being genetically uncled. I have many other nieces and nephews (and grand-nieces and grand-nephews!) on my wife's side so I've had some practice at playing the cool older relative.
  • Trips to Delaware/Virginia, Washington state, and Arkansas were the chances to see something new and different from our homestead. There were a lot of local trips through the western side of NY, meaning more time than usual to delve into our local flora and fauna.
  • I scored two "life birds," both within our region, a Slaty-backed Gull in Ithaca and a Curlew Sandpiper near Niagara Falls. There is a definite satisfaction in seeing new things where you are, but I am overtly jonesing for a trip somewhere exciting in 2009. I'm thinking South America -- Peru, Brasil, and Ecuador are jumbling in my brain, but for no real reason - if you have suggestions, please leave them in the comments. Requirements are lots of amazing birds to be found without hiring a tour guide or armed sentries, relatively cheap travel, lodging, and food, and reasonable entertainment for a bird-friendly wife and daughter.
  • Gardening and landscaping hit new highs and lows: we pushed hard to convert as much lawn as possible to gardens and native plants. We did well, but got burned out by mid-summer. Just as well, really, other things occupied us for the latter half of the year, from work (finishing up one grant and applying for others) and persronal (I won't go into those details, this isn't that kind of blog).
  • Oh, and there was that political election. Remember when Barack was elected? That was pretty cool.
There's more, to be sure, but those are the activities that stick out in these waning minutes of 2008. One applicable regret: the state of this blog. If I was the type to make resolutions I'd resolve to get on a specific schedule instead of the when-I-fit-it-in updates I tend to do. I suspect I should work on my time management for that, we'll see how that plays out (if the upcoming funding doesn't pan out I may be posting a lot more than I want).

Also, why am I here? Not in the metaphysical sense, which I've already figured out*, but here in the blogosphere? My intial impetus for starting a blog was an outlet, somewhere I could write (hopefully) creatively, have some fun, document some of the activities and experiences that occupy my time. Since not a lot of interesting things happen to me these days, at least compared to the young-birder-will-travel adventures I started highlighting in my "Flashback Friday" series, I've started to wonder, what is my point here, anyway? It's not a secret, but probably something I haven't openly shared with the general public, I always wanted to be a science writer. I'm not exactly sure how I wound up in pure research, but at least the blogosphere provides a (nonprofit) outlet.

Given the majority of topics are more "what my 4-year-old and I did outdoors," maybe that's the tack I should focus on. Maybe highlighting things going on at the workplace (lots of new initiatives at the Lab of Ornithology going on) and presenting natural history, distribution/abundance, and so on about local and exotic species and our natural world? Providing a window in the world of ornithological research, specifically remote monitoring of birds and migration? Regular pictures and stories of my dog, family, and our four acres?

Here's what I know: I will keep blogging until I figure out a direction (hold the phone, Chuck, maybe my direction is to be directionless?). I plan to post more regularly, especially to resurrect the Flashback Fridays and show more images from here, there (provided travel comes through), and everywhere. The Nature Blog Network blog stole a couple of my ideas (thankfully, as I never did anything with them), specifically introducing folks to blogs they may not be familiar with (and why I like them) and interviewing interesting bloggers, allowing folks to get to know them outside of their blog personalities. I may still run with that, I have different questions in mind, those that enquiring minds (at least mine) want to know.

Huh, so that's where my head is at this evening. That and wondering if Facebook is really worth the time and effort (if you're already there and we're not "friends" yet, hollar at me!).

OK, off to pour a drink, turn on some music (Dylan, Beatles, and old school classics? The Killers, Kings of Leon, and other new sounds?), and say farewell 2008, hello 2009.

A heartfelt thanks to you for reading, whether you're here by accident or you're a regular. Oh, and if you're wondering, what's the most fulfilling side of maintaining this blog? The friendship I've encountered, a totally unexpected side effect. I hope to meet many of you, face to face, in the near future. I'll even buy the first round.

May you all have a wonderful 2009!

* No I haven't.



Heidi said...

Happy New Year! Quiet one for us too. Can't advise on S. American countries, as I've never been but I look forward to the photos and stories that I'm sure you'll bring back.

N8 said...

Happy New Year!

Can't say much about SA, though a friend did Ecuador on a reasonable budget but it fails the non-birding family test.

May I suggest Costa Rica? Solid birding, good infrastructure, relatively inexpensive once you get there (especially in the off-season), and lots of beautiful beaches and rivers for non-birders.

noflickster said...

Heidi - I'm looking forward to the photos and stories, too! Maybe I'll start writing some up and then go do them, that'll save some time afterwards.

n8 - Happy New Year back at you, and happy birthday! I'm afraid many SA countries won't fare well on the family test, but we'll see. Costa Rica is an option with one caveat: my wife and I have been there before. I was only on the Caribbean slope (no quetzals for me!), but my wife spent three weeks traveling through the country, spending time in the cloud forest and the dry forest.

She came back sick enough that the mention of CR gives her stomach cramps. One day we'll be back, but I think I've got a better shot at somewhere new.

Maybe Belize? Panama? Too many options, but that's a good thing.

slybird said...

New yah! I was going to advise CR but then I saw your comments. I have suggestions (that I have yet to blog about) if you do end up going. I have no suggestions for Venezuela but know plenty of people who bird Peru and Ecuador a lot (M. Harvey, Glenn, etc...). Maybe I'll head down that way myself this year... :)

jan m said...

Happy New Year to you and your family! Wherever your blog takes you, I'll keep checking in.

noflickster said...

slybird - are you around the Lab this semester? I'll be picking people's brain for their thoughts, yours included. Of course, I'll be doing additional brain-picking over the 'Net, too.

jan m - glad to know you'll continue stopping in, and looking forward to following your blog through 2009!

Happy New year to you all!

slybird said...

I only have around three more weeks at the Lab. Then I disappear from Ithaca forever, or at least the next six months and the forseeable future. *sadness*

N8 said...

Shoulda figured you'd already done CR. ; )

I've also heard good things about Trinidad & Tobago. Lots of cool south american bird families, good infrastructure, english speaking, and lovely beaches. Plus the airfare is comparable to CR.

I've always held it in my mind for a possible future birding/family trip.

Sparverius said...

Mike, happy new year. I'm a couple days late in that little wish, but it's there just the same. What ever direction you take your blog, I'm sure I will continue to enjoy reading what you have. It's always nice to see the world from a different perspective.

noflickster said...

Nick - bummer that you're leaving "the Basin"! Any immediate or distant plans yet?

N8 - Of all the countries south of Mexico CR is the only one I've made it to so far. Island hopping to a few Caribbean sites crossed my mind, but I hadn't really thought much past Puerto Rico, DR, and that region. Thanks for the T&T suggestion, it's now on the list!

Sparverius - Happy New Year back at you! I think you articulated something I didn't fully realize I did: I have two sets of blogs I read through regularly. There are those that are newsy and those that are "entertaining." I used airquotes (not sure which keyboard command does that so I used real ones) because I don't mean it in a diminutive, lesser-worth sense, but those that are fun to read *because* of the author's style and perspective.

Truth be told, I'm more attracted to events, whether they're "newsy" or experiential, filtered through someone's view rather than the straight-up information presentation. Naturally, I'll be following your exploits as well!


slybird said...

No plans after my six-month stint at Archbold with the Scrub-Jays. I'll almost certainly apply to grad schools next fall, but I will still have a year to fill with cool field work.

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