Sunday, September 18, 2005

Visiting the Temple of Fossils

PZ Myers, an example of the cryptic species;
reality-based blogging humans, Homo logicus blogopus (endangered).

This individual was digitally captured in one of
its preferred habitats; a museum.

There are plenty of you, dear readers, who are visiting me today because I spent most of the previous two days with your hero, PZ Myers, his wife, Mary, and their daughter, Skatje (for those of you who are wondering, Skatje's name rhymes with Katja). My initial field observations include the surprising discovery that, without his pirate's eyepatch, PZ is not as recognizable as one might think he should be, despite the fact that he looks just like his picture. However, I did recognize Mary right away and, in fact, seeing her was how I finally found the courage to approach them (and one of their fans) at their table at John's Pizzaria in Times Square on Friday evening, steaming pizza notwithstanding. While we ate and chatted (I think I babbled, everyone else chatted), another of PZ's fans -- a lurker -- stopped by briefly to quickly say hello.

If you didn't know yet, PZ is famous!

We spent an enjoyable evening talking and eating pizza. PZ shared his special news with us and Skatje was kind enough to let me look through two photography books that she had purchased during their visit to the Met. We then dropped Skatje off at the hotel before meeting several more of PZ's fans for an evening of carousing and interesting conversation at a quaint little hole-in-the-wall bar in Greenwich Village. (I refuse to reveal who ended up wearing the lampshade on his or her head at the end of the evening. Okay, okay, I'll admit it: I am for sale. I'll spill the beans in exchange for a real job offer.) I also taught PZ and Mary how to use the subway system -- they proved to be very adept -- so they would be released from the financial tyranny of relying solely on cabs for their transportation needs. I had ulterior motives, of course; saved cab fares means more money to spend on food! And booze!

Saturday morning, several more of PZ's fans met us at the Natural History Museum and we roamed its hallowed halls that are packed with dinosaur fossils. PZ took a lot of pictures, more than what you see on his blog, so I hope all of us will see more of these pictures over the next few days. I also wish to brag to you, dear readers; I managed to arrange the crowning jewel of the day (well, in this evolutionary biologist/ornithologist's opinion); a viewing of five of the six Archeopteryx fossils, including the hauntingly beautiful Berlin specimen (pictured).

I was disappointed only by one thing; despite PZ's lofty status as a tenure-track associate pirate, I was disappointed to realize that he does not have a shoulder parrot-mascot, as all professional pirates ought. Of course, a parrot-mascot would not have helped me recognize PZ any faster when I first found him in the church of pizza (John's Pizzaria is located in a deconsecrated church), but a parrot would have gotten my attention faster than anything else ever could have, even faster than the naked cowboy (This is a bit of an inside joke: I link to the naked cowboy because I hoped that we would run into him in his usual Times Square habitat. I am not sure if PZ, Mary and Skatje were also disappointed by the lack of a sighting, but I do want them to know that this man is not a figment of an overactive imagination. But I digress ... ).

Mary, being the excellent pirate's mate that she is, made sure that PZ remedied his lack of a shoulder mascot for his pirate costume by encouraging him to purchase a red plush octopus, Octopus rubescens fuzziei, to wear on his shoulder. I hope that someone will post a picture of PZ in full pirate regalia (including his shoulder octopus-mascot) to his blog. I know I will grab a copy of this picture and distribute it to all of his future grad students as "blackmail material" to be included in their dissertation defenses.

My time with PZ, Mary and Skatje and all of PZ's fans was so much fun. I emerged from my exile and for the first time, I met several bloggers and their companions, all of whom are so interesting and talented, and all of whom use their real names, even on their blogs. I even felt comfortable enough with this group that I managed some slapstick humor with Mike Bergin, that appeared to be well-received. [Mike and I are having a philosophical email discussion regarding bird keeping and breeding (a discussion that will result in an opinion piece on this topic being published here sometime in the near future).] Even though I was really nervous about this meeting, everything was fine and we all got along well. I was pleased to spend so much time talking and hanging out with people who have such active intellectual lives. In fact, this was the highlight of an otherwise challenging week.

Additional note: In all the excitement, I neglected to mention that exactly three years ago today, on a misty and cool Seattle morning, I defended my dissertation in front of all my friends, colleagues and committee members, and thereby earned the right to be called "doctor". This is the one bright, shining moment in my life and I like to recall it because it always gives me a thrill of pride to realize that I succeeded despite all the odds, in spite of all my losses and sacrifices. While there certainly are moments when I've wanted to donate my diploma to the local Goodwill, it is still true that this is the one and only thing in my life that no one can ever take away from me, and for that, I am pleased.

For those of you who are wondering, I did not reveal any "blackmail material" on my advisors nor committee members during my defense.


© 2004, 2005, 2006 by GrrlScientist

4 Peer Reviews:

Blogger Forkhead said...

So jealous here....

Sounds like a great time.

The best part is the photo, that kid in the background is hilarious.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Rexroth's Daughter said...

Very brave of you all to meet each other. We are such hermits, and would go a little crazy if we actually had to talk real live sentences to people.
I'm so glad you had fun. Sounds like a great time. Having an evening like the one you had is like something out of A Moveable Feast: "On every corner and at every café table, there were the most extraordinary people living wonderful lives and telling fantastic stories."

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

personally i rather like the fact that you remembered that its international talk like a pirate day . . . you of all people . . . I would never have guessed this from you

9:46 PM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

Forkhead; yeah, the kid is funny .. his eyes look really weird, though.

RD; I debated with myself about this meeting right up until the last moment, but I ended up making the right choice. Perhaps that is the reason I am so pleased. I also like that quote you included, it is quite appropriate.

Anonymous; Arrr, I 'ave many interests, matey!


10:35 AM  

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