Yao Ming is “standing tall to fight poaching”.

I saw this story recently, and it brought bittersweet joy to my heart.  I would definitely like to watch WildAid’s feature documentary, “The End of the Wild”.  Coincidentally, I came across this while I was skimming the news and forcing one of my friends to watch Virunga.

I’m sure that when people hear “Yao Ming”, the image that is conjured in their minds is a giant Chinese man playing basketball (occasionally, when he wasn’t injured).  Having spent a few years in China, I can speak to the fact that his star power is huge.  In a country with one billion people, that really is impressive.  In fact, even in remote, isolated villages in the mountains, you can find a basketball court.  Although, I’m unsure if this necessarily attests to the power of Yao Ming, or if basketball has always been “a thing”.  I’ve been told that it’s the former.

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“Bird Songs and Sunrises”

Today, I would like to take the opportunity to reblog something written by my friend, Cody Pytlak.

Bird Songs and Sunrises – A Field Technician’s Experience of the 2014 Spring Shifts (Part 1)

In this post, Cody writes about his experience working for the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI), an experience that I also shared.  Working for the ABMI was incredibly rewarding, and this summer remains in my mind as one of the funnest, brightest, and, at times, most challenging.  Every day during spring protocol, my partner and I would get up between 2:30 – 3:00 AM to ensure that we arrived at site center a half hour before dawn.  This, at times, required stumbling around for 1-2 km in darkness while carrying lots of things on your back and in your hands.  Despite the early hours, the barbed wire fences, occasional inclement weather, and the burden of dragging around a large backpack filled with expensive and heavy recording equipment, there was a certain stillness and peace.  In the field, you are completely alone for as far as you can see (with the exception of your partner, and the odd cow, deer, or coyote).  The prairies can seemingly go on forever to the naked eye, and it’s beautiful.  Below, are some of my Instagram shots.

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I recently watched a very powerful and moving documentary.  It had all the makings of a great blockbuster, but it wasn’t at all a Hollywood film, and this was perhaps the most heartbreaking aspect of it.  As I was watching, a part of me reasoned that such extreme violence, corruption, and despair could only be fiction.  Yet, Virunga depicts the lives of real people – the rangers of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Every day, these rangers risk their lives to protect Virunga, home to the critically endangered mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei), amongst many other unique species.  In a country left broken by civil war, with endless threat from poachers and militant rebel groups, this is no easy task.  In fact, as mentioned in the film, many of these rangers have lost their lives.  This documentary left me both stunned and emotionally devastated.  I actually can’t recall the last time that I was affected by something so deeply, particularly something that I have never experienced directly.  If you wish to preview a clip, or to read about, head over to the New York Times, or the documentary’s official website.  The full documentary is available on Netflix.



I’m a bit rusty.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on this blog.  At times like these, I wish that I had kept a travel blog.  Why didn’t I?  After a five year hiatus, I’ve decided to return to blogging for both personal and professional reasons.  I would like to document my life as a graduate student, and not regret a lack of record about my life as a graduate student five years from now.  There are so many memories that I wish to have preserved in writing from the past five years.  All I’ve got now are photos, and my brain (which is not the most dependable instrument).  In light of this, this blog will serve as both a current and rewinding tape of my life.  I hope that through this process, you (if anyone is reading this) will better understand how I have reached the point where I am at today.  I will try to post old photos and write little snippets about what I remember, and I will post new photos and articles that reflect my current life.  Perhaps, I am doing this just for me.  However, if you are reading this, please, sit back and enjoy.

Oh, and I still love turtles.