Ever thought about that word, deadlines? Dead lines? Is it that the line itself is dead? Or that your death is somehow connected to the line? Before the line that is dead, you are alive, after the line, you are dead, because you didn’t make your deadline. Actually, according to (I love Wikipedia and its spinoffs), the understanding of a deadline as a due date comes from journalism, which in turn adopted it from printing, going back to the days of the old printing presses, where a dead line was a line on a plate that did not move. Like many of the words in the english language, deadline – as a due date – is not all that old. Interestingly, other contexts the word has been used in include a fishing line that is set and not moved, left to wait for a bite, and in the prison system, as a line (often a fence) over which inmates must not go or they will be shot.

Your dead line is March 13th. Friday the 13th, in fact. How’s that for an ominous deadline date? (Speaking of relatively recent, apparently references to Friday the 13th being unlucky really only start appear in the early 1900s – the connection has been made to a book that came out at that time by Thomas W. Lawson called Friday, the thirteenth, about a Wall Street broker who uses the superstition to his advantage.)

Friday the 13th would be today. Today is the last day I am officially accepting material for the blog carnival The Moth and Me, which will be posted at NAMBI on Sunday. As you all know, I am crazy about moths (only slightly less crazy than I am about birds, and just a tad more than I am about nature in general), and I hope to see this carnival thrive and prosper. But that requires that people send in their links! For the first edition or two I’m not picky about date – send in anything you have, even if it’s from a year or two ago. Let’s give this fabulous group of organisms their due! I will unofficially still accept material up to late tomorrow (Saturday), but don’t leave it to the last minute if you can – I’ll be working to put together the post tomorrow, and would like to have material in hand by then.

Festival of the Trees

Your other deadline, which is fortunately is a little further in the future, is for Festival of the Trees. This will be a busy month for me, in terms of hosting carnivals, in that I’ll be doing two within a couple weeks of each other. Links for FOTT will need to be in to me by March 30, for an April 1 carnival. Trees, and anything tree-related (such as tree-specific fungi, tree-using insects, or tree-loving people), will be happily accepted.

Specify which carnival the links are for in your subject line. One post per person preferably, although if you have two really good ones and just can’t decide, go ahead and send them both in. Email them to: sanderling [at] symbiotic [dot] ca or, for FOTT, use the online submission form.

Looking forward to seeing what everyone has to offer!


This and that


Today’s photo is of the kittens, Oliver and Merlin, who are still small enough to comfortably fit on the desk and “help” me work. They like to watch the mouse on the computer screen, which is very cute but does make it difficult to see what one is doing. They’re also indiscriminate about what they’re stepping on, and can find all sorts of buttons and shortcuts that you had no idea existed. Usually for functions that you really didn’t want to do, too.

I’ve been saving up a few random things to throw together in a post of assorted non-nature things, or at least not directly nature. The first is that I want to make a slightly advance notice of the next edition of I and the Bird, which will be hosted by Jeffrey A. Gordon at his blog this week. IATB #90 will be posted on Thursday (and I’ll put the direct link here once it’s up). The rest of his blog is worth a browse, too, he’s got some fabulous photos.

Second is delayed notice of the most recent Festival of the Trees, #30, hosted at A Neotropical Savanna. Lots of interesting posts and blogs included, so I encourage folks to pop over and poke around. Carnivals are a great way to discover new blogs, perhaps even find one that will become your new favourite read.

If you peer closely at the monitor in the photo, you’ll see I was checking out my WordPress stats page. On the right-hand side of the stats graph there’s a gigantic spike in hits. I’d been bumbling along at about an average of 130-140 page views per day (as WordPress tracks it, anyway). Then yesterday, out of the blue, I got a whopping 995 hits. This is more than I got during the entire month of February, back just shortly after I’d started the blog. I always have a bunch of visitors that come through Google searches (the popular one at the moment is inquiring about female deer with antlers), but the vast majority of the hits yesterday were referred from StumbleUpon, a social-networking site that allows you to “bookmark” pages you really like, which are then shared with other people who follow your selections, or can be “stumbled” by others looking for random pages submitted by other users in categories they’re interested in. The page of mine that had been stumbled was my previous one, on goldfinches. And the person who bookmarked it to StumbleUpon was Wrenaissance Woman, of Wrenaissance Reflections. A huge thank you to Wren for including my blog in her bookmarks. I need to sign up with StumbleUpon myself and start using it myself, something I’d been meaning to do but hadn’t gotten around to yet.

superior scribbler award

I’d like to acknowledge receipt of an award, initially given to me by Voice of the Turtle, but seconded by Huckleberry Days, both regular reads of mine and also worthy recipients in their own right. I lean heavily on nature to provide me with content, but Turtle has a way of being able to pull creative and interesting content from her own head (I’m sure my readers would be bored to tears if I tried that). Huckleberry approaches blog subjects in a similar manner to myself, only lives out in the beautiful and diverse Fraser River Delta in British Columbia.

The “rules” are thus:

1. Each Superior Scribbler should in turn pass the award on to 5 most-deserving blog friends.

2. Each Superior Scribbler should link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received the award.

3. Each Superior Scribbler should display the award on his/her blog, and link to this post, which explains the award.

4. Each blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award should visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky list. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives this prestigious honor!

5. Each Superior Scribbler should post these rules on his/her blog.

The blog’s first “rule” asks that the recipient pass the award on to five others. Awards are not only recognition of good blogging, they’re also a way for bloggers to receive a bit of free promotion and in turn offer it to other blogs that they feel are worthy reads. I read many blogs, so picking just five is tough. Huckleberry has already picked three that would be high on my list: Wanderin’ Weeta, Beetles in the Bush and Myrmecos. Here are a few others that tend to be the first ones read from my blogroll when I’ve only got a few minutes. As per my usual, recipients can choose to participate or not as they wish.

1. Jennifer at A Passion for Nature
2. Hugh at Rock Paper Lizard (I especially enjoy his Interpreter posts, which I think would make a great book, like Stories from the Vinyl Cafe)
3. Liza Lee at It’s Just Me (a very humble title, previously The Egret’s Nest)
4. Tim at From the Faraway, Nearby
5. Nina at Nature Remains (whose poetic prose is perfect for an award highlight excellent writing)

I just want to also mention that it bothers me that the stripes on the Scribbler’s one arm are coloured in, while on the other they aren’t.

Some announcements

Willow Flycatcher

This is a post for news-y bits that I’ve been collecting over the last week or so. I thought I’d just hold on to them all and put them into a single non-nature post. Well, still nature-related, just not directly so.

First, I’ve participated in a few blog carnivals that all came out recently. Carnivals are a great way to sample the writings of many different people, as well as learn about many different, varied things. I invite everyone to browse over to It’s Just Me (aka The Egret’s Nest) for I and the Bird #78. Lots of great bird-related stories, from close to home to far abroad (no matter where home is for you!). Once you’re done there, check out Gossamer Tapestry for the latest Circus of the Spineless (a carnival dedicated to – you guessed it – invertebrates of all shapes and sizes), edition number 34. And finally, wrap it up with a visit to Earth, Wind and Water to read all about our arboreal neighbours in the Festival of the Trees #25.

Northern Pine Looper - Caripeta piniata

Some exciting news of a more personal nature, the field guide to moths that myself and The Moth Man will be co-authoring has been bought by Houghton Mifflin and will find a home in their Peterson field guide series. We have yet to sign the official documents, but the deal has been done, and I’m very excited to get started on the project! During negotiations it also came up that they’re planning a re-design of the Peterson series in the next few years, of which ours will be one of the first. It will be in the style of most bird books, with the images opposite the text and maps. We’re pretty stoked. Our deadline is 2010, so expect to see the book hit shelves in a couple years (if not before!).


And finally, a few days ago Voice of the Turtle passed on a Tree of Happiness to me. The “award” or recognition includes the above image, which is written in Portuguese. Not speaking Portuguese myself, I had to run it through a web translator. Actually, I ran it through several, since none of them are perfect. Roughly, the words mean this:

You have just received the Tree of Happiness.

It is still just a little seedling, but depends on you to grow steady and strong.

Plant it in your heart, water it with smiles and kindness, feel the fragrance of its flowers, the sweet taste of its fruits and share its shadow with whom you want!

The good things are better still if we can share them with people dear to us; then be a generous person and share this tree with your friends.

So plant happiness where you go!

You’ll see how many people come closer.

Will you?

This would be better if I had an actual little seedling to nurture and grow and share, but in the absence of that, a recipient is supposed to list six things that make them happy, and pick six other bloggers who deserve such an award (presumably because their writing makes you happy, rather than that you think they need an infusion of happiness).

Things that make me happy (in no particular order):

1. Breathing the fresh air, feeling the breeze in my hair and the sun on my face, listening to birds sing, out in the quiet of the countryside on a warm day.
2. Sharing my knowledge with someone and watching them grow, or seeing their enthusiasm or amazement in the subject. Blogging falls into this category.
3. Doing good by someone. Anyone, friend, family or stranger.
4. Sitting in a puddle of sun with a book in my hands, a tea at my side, and a purring cat in my lap.
5. Spending time with Blackburnian. Catching up with my best friend or family.
6. Art supplies. I like playing with them, too, but really art supplies are my version of the woman’s shoe collection. Don’t send me into an art store unsupervised.

I started to list six blogs that I felt were worthy recepients. I got up to six, then realized there was no way I could pick just six blogs who exemplified the qualities set out in the Portuguese above. So instead, I point you to the blogroll in my sidebar. All of these bloggers show some or all of the qualities listed, or I wouldn’t have included them in my blogroll. If you haven’t visited these sites, I highly recommend you do.