It’s an honor and a treat to have had PZ ask me to join him here at Pharyngula. Though there have been months lately where I haven’t been a particularly exuberant participant in the lively and collegial discussions here, my relationship with Pharyngula goes back a ways — back to ought-four, in fact, back when the blog was hosted on the Cray 2 in PZ’s undersea lair, and commenters underwent a series of strong electric shocks in an early form of CAPTCHA technology. It was just me and Hank Fox commenting back then, I think, and Old Man Buell the painter, and a giant ground sloth name of Shep. Good times.
Despite that long tenure, though, I haven’t been really active here all that much. I read regularly, but aside from that lurking, and the requisite supporting you all in email, I’m really kind of a newbie here. So a few things about me to get out of the way so you know who you’re talking to:
1) I’m a white cis straight male in my 50s. I live in Joshua Tree, California, an unincorporated community inhabited by about 10,000 hippies, artists, methheads and wingnuts, which is near the similarly-named National Park. I fit right in here. I spent most of my life living in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I worked as an environmental activist, writer and editor. I was born in Upstate New York but haven’t been back for more than a decade. I live with my fianceé Annette in a house with roadrunners, Gambel’s quail, and Joshua trees in the backyard. That last part may well help me finish the book on Joshua trees I’ve been working on since before Ron Paul was born.
2) I’m the guy who had his Jeep stolen and totaled this year who Hank Fox kindly did some good deeds toward, and you may well have donated to replace the Jeep — a lot of folks did, enough that I haven’t caught up with thank you notes. Eep. I haven’t replaced the Jeep yet — honestly, I’ll probably be getting a more economical 2-wheel pickup or something, used, from the grapevine in town here — but the kindness shown by Hank, FTBlogs, and associated kind people put me way closer to getting it. I’ll post a picture when that happens, and thank you again.
3) I’m an atheist. I came by it the easy way: I went to Catholic school. Being an atheist hasn’t occupied much space in my head since I figured out I was an atheist approximately 40 years ago. I’m luckier than a lot of people in that I haven’t suffered for my lack of belief, and I’m grateful for that.
4) I’ve been an environmental activist, with a focus mostly on wild landscapes and biodiversity, since around 1992. I was a professional gardener before that. This past year I’ve been working with my friend Jim André of the Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center to launch a group called Desert Biodiversity, which works to let people know about the rather astonishing biological diversity in North America’s deserts. I won’t polemicize about that here much unless something pisses me off, but I will share cool sciency things about the desert when I find them, and I will also post ChasCPeterson’s bio in our Board of Advisors page. Oops. Sorry Chas.
5) My dead dog is the most famous dead dog on the internets.
6) These days I make much of my living writing for Los Angeles’ public television station’s website, where I write news about renewable energy in California, as well as weekly pieces on desert natural history and California news commentary like this. I also have a sadly languishing blog here. I’m on Facebook here, and Twitter here.
Enough about me, though. Here’s a recent visitor to my backyard: