Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What I did at NAPC

1) Wrote my talk at the last minute.
Always a great idea. It's not like I ran over and had to be booted off stage. Worst of all I realised later that I must have been completely oblivious to my two-minute warning. Still, apparently it came across OK.

2) Saw some of my heroes speak.
Including Ken Miller and Sean Carroll, both of whose popular science books I have read as well as Michael Donoghue (whose contributions to evolution have been truly diverse), Steven Stanley (father of macroevolution) and Phil Gingerich (of fractal rates of evolution fame) - all legends.

3) Became addicted to shuffleboard.
A bit like a dry version of curling, but without the brushes. I exclusively play the doubles version and it turns out I have a penchant for the violent 'kamikaze'-type shots.

4) Got my ass whupped at basketball.
It seemed like such a good idea. I mean, how good can a bunch of palaeontologists be at sport? Weren't we all the geeks at school who hated physical education? Anyway, I entered myself and a couple of friends in the 3-on-3 tournament under the name "The Bristol Deciders" (retrospectively the Chickencows would have been better). It seemed victory would be ours when at one stage we were the only team to enter, but as it turned out there was one other - not enough for a tournament. Instead we played a pick up game with such luminaries as Arnie Miller, Mike Foote, Tom Baumiller and Shanan Peters involved. It's safe to say against the average American I am atrocious at basketball.

5) Visited the Creation Museum.
This was a truly bizarre experience. Some 80 palaeontologists, including Arnie Miller, Mike Foote, Christine Janis and myself boarded a couple of school buses for the short drive into Kentucky. I got photographed by the Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron something-or-other and the New York Times. In the end the story made both the New York Times and Bucyrus Telegraph Forum, but the highlight has to be the back of my head appearing in this article, justifying my claim to be the back of the head of palaeontology. It's a shame I'd already gotten my business cards done.

6) Enjoyed a mini PBDB summer course reunion.
It was the first time I had seen three folks from the PBDB summer course in two years and we even squeezed in a reunion photo. All of our instructors were also at the conference and it was good to see them again (and have them remember my name).

7) Learned how to play bocce ball.
Not as fun as shuffleboard, and Bristol taking on Berkeley ended disastrously. Still bocce ball was good fun.

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About Me

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Currently I am founding member, president elect and entire membership of SWEMP (the Society of Wonky-Eyed Macroevolutionary Palaeobiologists). In my spare time I get paid to do research on very dead organisms and think about the really big questions in life, such as: What is the ultimate nature of reality? Why is there no room for free will in science? and What are the implications of having a wardrobe that consists entirely of hotpants?