Find ALL the Reptiles and Amphibians!

This past Saturday I went on a trip with my herpetology class. We were out and about for 14 hours finding all kinds of really awesome reptiles and amphibians. We ended up finding about 30 species. Here are a few of them.

Malaclemys terrapin macrospilota

This is an Ornate Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin macrospilota) found on a small island, called Lanark Reef, somewhere off the coast of Carrabelle, Florida. (Warning: if you’re tempted to go to this place, don’t. We received special permission from the Florida FWC to be out there.)

Pseudobranchus striatus and Siren intermedia

These strange little ones here are Dwarf Sirens (Pseudobranchus striatus) and Lesser Sirens (Siren intermedia), two species of aquatic salamanders. Those bushy things near their heads are external gills. We found them in a man-made pond on the side of the road, somewhere north of Carrabelle, Florida.

Necturus alabamensis

This cute little salamander is an Alabama Waterdog (Necturus alabamensis). (I still can’t figure out why they call an aquatic salamander a “waterdog”.) This one was found under a bridge in Big Gully Creek.

Ambystoma opacum

I was really excited to find this salamander. I’d been dying to see it and we found three of them at our final site (Rock Bluff Botanical Area). It’s a Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum) and one of the few terrestrial salamanders we found that day.

Acris gryllus

This is a Southern Cricket Frog (Acris gryllus). They were at almost every site we visited on Saturday, which is awesome because frogs are awesome.  (Don’t worry about it being in a plastic baggy. We keep the smaller herps in them while we look at them. It keeps them from drying out in our hands and allows us to look at them without them hopping away or getting hurt. I promise that they were all just fine when we let them go.)

Pseudacris crucifer

This is a Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer). It gets its scientific name from the cross marking present their backs (which you can’t see well from this photo, but it was there). We found this one in Rock Bluff Botanical Area (where I also got a chigger bite… in my bellybutton).

Credit for the photos goes to one of my classmates (my camera failed me). You can view the rest here.

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A New Focus

I haven’t really been blogging much. I’m far to busy with organizing, school, and trying to keep up on my sleep. However, I’ve decided that there is something that I have enough time and passion to blog about: HERPS! So when I feel up to it and have some cool pictures to share, I’ll be blogging about all the little (or big) reptiles and amphibians I find.

Here’s a start:

 

I found these two in Lakeland, Florida during a recent conference. They were on the second-story balcony after it had rained one night. They’re Cuban Treefrogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis), which are invasive in Florida. Invasive or not, they were still really cute.

 

I’m not sure exactly what this little one is. I found it about a month ago while on a short hike not too far from my apartment. My best guesses (from the awful picture I took) is an Oak Toad (Bufo quercicus).

So, that’s what I’ve got for now. But… Good news, everyone! I’m going out this Wednesday and Saturday to look for more reptiles and amphibians!

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New Doctor Who Trailer!

OMFSM! Doctor Who starts its new season soon and I could not possibly contain my fangirl excitement. Just…. SQUEEEEE! (I’ve been squeeing for a solid 10 minutes; I’ve scared my cats and my new roommate, I’m sure.) Anyway, watch this new trailer. Now. It’s awesome :D

Edit: I just found this (slightly different) trailer that I hadn’t seen before. Thought I’d share the additional awesomeness.

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Interested in Volunteering for Secular Woman?

 

Secular Woman Logo

As a board member and VP of Programs at Secular Woman, I’ve got a lot of projects on my plate. Today I was talking to the other board members about our committees and our volunteers, when I realized that I only have one person on my committee! And this is a pretty big committee for Secular Woman: we oversee most of the projects created by the organization (conference grants, the speakers bureau, and other specific programs).

So, I’m putting the call out to anyone interested in becoming a volunteer for an awesome (IMHO) secular organization. If you’re interested in helping organize and have the time and skills required, please consider joining Secular Woman’s Programs Committee. To be considered for this committee, you must be a member of Secular Woman and submit an application through our website (choose “Programs” in the “Select Committee” category).

I’m looking for people with skills or experience with the following:

  • grassroots movements (secular or not)
  • organizing local/regional/national groups (secular or not)
  • organizing or participating in conferences/conventions/rallies (secular or not)

If you don’t have experience with any of those things, but think you’re capable of helping, feel free to submit an application anyway. I look forward to hearing from some really awesome people!

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Did I mention how awesome my new phone is?

Ah, this is one of those wonderful, rare times I get to buy myself a new bit of technology. I recently had a cell phone crisis (My phone broke while I was at a conference and then I couldn’t pay my phone bill anyway, so I was without a phone for a month. It was very not fun.), but then my favorite time of the year happened: financial aid disbursement. So I took my happy (rich feeling) ass down to the phone store and bought myself a lovely new phone. As many of my friends will note (usually while sighing and rolling their eyes): I fucking love cell phones. I’m a bit obsessed with Android phones and I couldn’t pass up the rare opportunity to buy the best phone available (which wasn’t too expensive since I had to sign a new contract, too). And what phone did I pick, you ask? Only the most awesomest one out right now: the Samsung Galaxy S III.

Just look at this phone porn.

Oh yeah baby.

It feels and works just as good as it looks. It runs Android 4.0, is 4G LTE capability, has an amazing 8 megapixel camera, a beautiful 4.8 inch screen, a dual-core processor, 2GB of ram, 16GB of internal storage plus a micro-SD slot, Near Field Communication capability… and all that doesn’t even begin to describe how awesome it is. This is the sexiest piece of technology that I’ve ever owned. And yeah, I’m probably exceeding acceptable levels of excitement for a cell phone, but damned it, I don’t care. Basically, if you’re looking for a new, kickass phone, I would highly recommend this one (which is available on Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon).

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On Being Poor and Why It Really Sucks, Part 2

In the comments section of my last post, On Being Poor and Why It Really Sucks, Part 1, someone asked this:

So where’s the ‘donate’ button

I really appreciate people being interested in helping me (which I’ve experienced a lot of within the secular community; it seems to be full of kind, generous people, even if there are a few assholes). But this does bring me to my next sucky thing about being poor: accepting help.

Another thing that really sucks about being poor is accepting help when you need it. I grew up in modern American culture, which tells people that everyone can become rich, if only they try hard enough. So when you come to a point in your life where you’re barely even surviving, it’s hard not to blame yourself. I know I do. Any time people offer me help, specifically financial help, I have an overwhelming sense of failure. I’m very aware how stupid and unreasonable it is to feel that way, but when you’ve been feed the “bootstraps theory” (aka: pull yourself up by your bootstraps) your whole life, it’s hard not to internalize it. I even have a hard time with friends buying me a snack (there have been more than a few times that I was very hungry because I’d been away from my apartment all day but didn’t have the money to buy anything and a friend offered to buy me a snack only to have me turn the offer down).

Despite my feeling of failure, I’m beginning to learn to accept help when I need it. I’ve know for a long time that “anyone can become rich in America” is a myth, and others have begun to realize this too (as illustrated not too long ago by the 99% movement). I feel like I’ve come a long way on this issue of mine in a short time. I’ve even added a “donate” button to this blog (as you can see in the sidebar). But it’ll take more time for me to unlearn some of the things ingrained in me by a lifetime of being poor (even if it’s been a short lifetime so far). And until these things stop being a problem, I’ll keep talking about them

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On Being Poor and Why It Really Sucks, Part 1

Some of you may not know this, but I’m really poor. I grew up in a poor household (I’ve got lots of great poor people stories! And other weird stories about my childhood). Now that I’ve moved out… I’m even more poor. The only income that I’ve got is financial aid, composed mostly of student loans. I live with my partner, who was working for a while, but he just got laid off, so there goes that money. I’ve been without a cell phone for about a month now because it broke and I can’t afford to get it fix (or pay the bill, for that matter). Also, I was just evicted. (My friends call these things my “financial adventures”.)

I’m a full time student, so that kind of puts some difficulty in finding a job. But I’m also very involved in the freethought community: I’m currently president of Freethinkers FSU, director of the conference committee for the Humanists of Florida Association, and now I’m one of four board members for Secular Woman. All of that doesn’t leave much time for a job (although I do try to make a bit of money by selling crocheted items). I know what some people will say (because that’s pretty much all I hear from my mother these days): “Stop doing all of that extra stuff and find a job!” I have a few responses to that: (1) It’s a little late for that. I can’t just stop being involved in these organizations. I can’t just say, “Yeah, I know I said I’d help organize this group and I know you all kind of need me to do these things, but… I’m out of here. Have fun cleaning up after me. kthxbye.” (2) These “extra” things I do are what make life worth living. My life would be rather dull without these organizations. My life would kind of suck without doing these things that make me feel like I’m actually making some small difference in the world (or maybe just in the lives of a few people, but that’s enough). And most of my friends are involved in the freethought community, too. Basically, activism and organizing are my recreational activities. (3) Even if I wasn’t doing all this “extra” stuff, I would still have a hard time finding a job. It took me six months last time I was looking to find anyone willing to hire me (and I pretty much just got lucky that time: I ended up working for the US Census). I guess my skills aren’t exactly marketable and my schedule isn’t exactly flexible.

But even thought I know all these things, I still feel guilty; lazy. And that’s one of the suckiest things about being poor. Everyone telling you that you’re poor because you’re lazy; because you’re not trying hard enough. And I’ve internalized that, even as I try to fight against those ideas. I’m aware enough to know this isn’t true. I don’t blame other people for their poverty. But I can’t help but blame myself for mine.

I guess that’s all I care to write about this at the moment. But I will write about this topic again in the future. There’s lots to be said about poverty, guilt, and class privilege.

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