I was paid $150 to teach a field based class for a community college at a nature reserve. The class was part of a semester long course taught by my naturalist friend (herpetologist). I illustrated 3 zines to use as teaching materials. We hiked around the reserve and I taught directly from the zines. The students loved it! The students were diverse in age and background. They have a sustainability certificate that most of the students were there to get credit for. 3 students asked if I would extend the one day class into an entire course.
. In theory that would be fun, but the logistics would have to all align. Maybe mostly online with a few camping based field trips? Something to ponder as each course pays about $4000.
My partner and I are currently on a van trip in the Southwest. At the start of the trip we stayed with the Desert Druid himself, @AxelHeyst. Delightful human! We used my binoculars to scope out all the Solarhenge projects he has been laboring on in his watershed. We ate some of our sourdough and hummus with a lentil meal he prepared for dinner. Classic. The morning we silently sat on a porch sipping coffee and tea while writing/journaling/painting as the sun rose into the valley. Desert introvert bliss. I went for a trail run and my partner went for a MTB ride on the jeep trail through the valley. We found some flowering Joshua Trees (tail end of the spring season). The desert had a super bloom and there were patches of brilliantly colored hillsides. There is a lot of life in the Mojave desert, you just need to know when and where to look. Animal tracks also hold up extremely well (it was not windy) so I look forward to showing interested folks the basics of tracking at ERE fest! We are looking forward! I am planning on swinging back through on my way back North (I now see @AH beat me to the punch, but I had this written before I just read his post
# IMPROVEMENTS / INSPIRATIONS
The sweet spot for content for me is in the overlap of art, science, and teaching. I have chosen my direction well for how to interact with others.
I have added "Inspirations" to this section of the acronym. I really like the "We pay for photographs not excuses" saying that National Geographic editors are fond of saying based on some interviews with Nat Geo photographers.
# NEW DIRECTIONS
Started adding Chat-GPT to my coding workflow with mixed results. Overall I am getting better at asking and refining questions. The gap will widen substantially for entry or mid-level programmers that can use this effectively for code monkey type work. Maybe I will actually get this exercise data analysis package built sooner! (or someone else will write a better one for me to use).
I finished the kitchen and living room in our van. The last step to make the van fully off-grid capable is solar. The current electrical system is shore power to a 250 amp hour AGM battery. We have a battery to battery charger that will be reinstalled when we get back (living room rebuild altered mounting point). I will do a detailed post when all of this is finished. In talking with @AH, the new flexible solar panels are now really good options and do not need to be permanently mounted. We would likely only use the van solar for charging when it is fully parked away from a shore plug. We are now on a slow research/hunt for this style of panel.
If we want to allow my partner to work (video call intensive) then we would also add the new Roaming Option of Starlink. You can start/stop the service on a month by month basis if it did not also work at our house (should).
I left a sketchbook at home that I was doing most of my 1000 figures from imagination challenge in. I am at ~700, but will update with an actual number when I get home for next month.
In addition to the zines mentioned above I made an adventure van zine, finished a travel sketchbook, and plan on finishing another one on this trip.
# OUTDOOR ADVENTURE
I really enjoyed running on the Arizona Trail North of Flagstaff. It is exactly the type of running I like. Technical and rocky at higher elevation with long climbs.
Van stuff see above.
I am completely in the groove of my communications role now. I have a content schedule that is easy to get all my "work" done in a short amount of time. I have plans to automate a few other parts of it, mainly data collection and aggregation steps.
My contract will not be renewed next July (unless I find additional funding) so it sets things up perfectly to use my new communications skills to work on more ambitious science/adventure/art projects. I co-taught a small workshop on using Quarto for generating websites, presentations, and interactive data visualizations for science related projects.
A perk of the job is that I get to work with science communications and science journalism professionals. Two have taken me in after I specifically asked to be mentored by them. We are coming up with a content plan that will work for my current role, can be nice portfolio writing pieces, and how to think about a science writing project from concept to pitching it to news outlets. The nice thing is that even if they do not get published outside our organization, they can still be published through our work blog or my personal blog. They are even encouraging me to build a few pieces before this fall so I can apply to a beginners science writing fellowship specifically for academic scientists who want to make that transition. I am a lucky duck.
We had a successful drink and draw this month. Some new participants had us play beautiful monsters. You start by drawing a head of a character then folding it over so only the end of the neck can be seen by the next person. You then pass to your left. The next person draws a body, folds it over, and passes. Then the legs. Reveal, laugh, repeat. It was very fun.
After I taught with my herpetologist friend, we went looking for "hot" snakes, aka poisonous ones (hence herpin' for hotties
). He has been herpin' for a long time and has a network of places he goes where there are old barns or boards/sheet metal he placed out in fields more than a decade ago. Snakes in particular like to have both sides of the board touching them and are very sensitive to temperature. They will move under the boards at the end of the day, but go elsewhere if the boards are south facing because they get too hot. We found a few gopher snakes and a beautiful Northern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus). I do not try to handle these in anyway, but my friend studied them for his masters so he put it in a bucket so we could observe it for a while. PM for pics (I know snakes are not everyone's cup of tea).
The art scene in our town is super small, but existent. We went to a potluck and screening of Citizen Kane on original film. The story telling in the movie is excellent with really interesting lighting scenes to change mood or emphasis. It could be used as a masterclass in visual value studies. The commentary on "news" and politics holds true to today with some chuckles from the audience. haha.