Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I'm Awesome

Okay - This is an unusual post but I think it is an important one in my journey. 


Yes - I did just make that proclamation about myself.  Why?  Well, while I was walking during lunch yesterday, I was listening to my Tenacious D station which has a lot of fun, funny, and very inappropriate songs to round out the playlist.  The song "I'm Awesome" by Spose came on and it got me really thinking about myself as I chuckled to the lyrics.  These thoughts were running through my brain:

I am awesome - I just need to say it more.  
I am awesome - I need to feel it more.  
I am awesome - I need to be it more.

Screen Capture Taken During My Lunch Walk Yesterday
I can hear the critics now - "Cameron.  You hear an inappropriate song and then write a blog post about being awesome? WTF!"

Whatever - I can write this post because I am awesome.  That is reason enough.  On a serious note and as I mention above, that song yesterday, while crude, rude, and inappropriate, really got me thinking.  I have a great life.  I really do.  I am great with snakes and even better at getting people excited about snakes.  I got an awesome dose of gratitude from numerous attendees of my talk last week at the Southeast Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation annual conference.  I rocked it and it reminded me that I am good (great!) at teaching especially about snakes.  Is it vain to say so?  Maybe but I don't care anymore.  I want to continue to teach and inspire people to care about and explore the world of snakes.  I want the world to know it!

I Am Awesome!
One of the things that I am best at is finding snakes and this makes me awesome in my mind.  The weather in Louisiana sucked for finding snakes - not horrible but it made it brutal to find a snake in February.  It was in the 40s on Thursday when I arrived and never reached 50 that day.  On Friday, it was warmer but the high hovered near 60 with a threat of rain all day.  Saturday was my best chance for finding a snake and I spotted the little speckled kingsnake in the photo above basking beneath some leaves.  This makes me awesome.  I wish I had stayed another day to find some more snakes but regardless, I had a great time and the experience in Louisiana reminded me that I am awesome.

My feeling of awesomeness has extended into today which is the real reason I am writing this blog.  I love that I can now keep positive thoughts in my mind and tell my bullshit negativity to go to hell.  I don't know how I have done this but I like the shift.  I think it might have to do with a better outlook and plan for the Center for Snake Conservation.  Some exciting things are going to happen in 2015 with me and snakes - things that are going to change my life for the better and everyone around me is going to also benefit from this change.

I am excited and you should be too!

Enjoying The AWESOME Sun This Morning - I Am Awesome

Do you want to hear the song that inspired this post?  Click the link but I am not responsible for any offense you take - I warned you.

Monday, February 23, 2015

I Need A Recharge

I just spent 4 days traveling and attending a conference in Louisiana but now I can feel myself shutting down.  I just want to hide.  I was socially overloaded but then had to dive right back into work.  I just want to crawl into bed and sleep.  I want to slither under a big rock and wait a few days for the weather to change.  I really don't want to be working or talking to anyone.

Landing in New Orleans
Do you think it would be rude for me to shut my door and hide all day?

Okay - how to fix this?  Focus on the positives and give myself positive self talk.  Easier said than done but I have to do this.  I am going to close my door and listen to one of my guided meditation apps for a few minutes to hopefully recharge my brain. 

What I really need is some OUTDOOR MEDITATION TIME aka a SNAKE HIKE.  I got to go on a Snake Hike while in Louisiana and it helped get me through the weekend.  Here is the snake I found while hiking:

First Snake of 2015 - Speckled Kingsnake
Since I can't go on a Snake Hike (the weather outside is frightful!), I am going to think about snakes after I meditate.  I am going to think about how I can move forward with making snakes my only job.  I learned this past weekend that the Center for Snake Conservation brand is really positive in the herp world.  Lots of people told me they loved what I am doing.  The brand is a good one - time to GROW beyond being an amateur and become the professional I know that I am.

Snow covered roads in Denver with lots more snow coming this week.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Snake Trouble - The Best Kind of Trouble

Yes,  I have snake trouble.  Yes, snake trouble is the best kind of trouble to have.  What is my snake trouble?  Well, my snake trouble is that I travel to Louisiana on Thursday.  BIG SNAKE TROUBLE!

Me getting into Snake Trouble
I am supposed to be attending the Southeast Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation annual meeting.  I was invited to give a talk about the Center for Snake Conservation and Social Media.  This is going to be a fun talk to give but my mind has already left the conference and is looking for snakes.  Yes, I can sit in my office in Denver, think about snakes, and see myself finding them as if I were catching them in the wild - I have quite a powerful imagination.  

I am SO FREAKING excited for this trip!  It has been years since I have had the opportunity to look for snakes in the southeastern United States.  My only hurdle is that it is still February and the weather is not going to be ideal for snakes.  The highs will be in the 50s on Thursday, 60s on Friday, and 70s on Saturday - not perfect snake weather in February but as long as the sun is out, I can still find snakes.  However, I won't be able to find all the species that occur in the area and I am going to have to work hard for the snakes that I do find.  

Weather forecast for Covington, LA this weekend
Still - this is my snake trouble and I am SO HAPPY to have it.  I need it.

There are roughly 45 species of snakes in Louisiana - 36 of these species have the potential to occur in Saint Tammany Parish (where I will be).  Most of these are snakes that I grew up with and know very well.  The trick is going to be can I find them in a new place for me to herp (I have only herped in Louisiana once before) and can I find them in February.

Here is the list of the potentials for this trip in no particular order:

Nerodia fasciata Micrurus fluvius
Storeria dekayi Nerodia cyclopion
Crotalus horridus Farancia abacura
Coluber flagellum Rhadinaea flavilata
Thamnophis sirtalis Lampropeltis calligaster
Nerodia sipedon Sistrurus miliarius
Agkistrodon contortrix Coluber constrictor
Agkistrodon piscivorus Farancia erytrogramma
Nerodia rhombifer Pantherophis guttata
Crotalus adamanteus Storeria occipitomaculata
Heterodon platirhinos Diadophis punctatus
Thamnophis sauritus Virginia striatula
Caraphophis amoenus Opheodrys aestivus
Regina rigida Lampropeltis elapsoides
Pantherophis spiloides Cemophora coccinea
Thamnophis proximus Virginia valeriae
Nerodia erythrogaster Tantilla coronata
Nerodia clarkii Lampropeltis getula

Shit Cameron - you only wrote the scientific names down.  Like I said above, these are the snakes I grew up with and know best.  These are the names I know the best.  Yes, I know their common names too but those can really vary depending on where you live.  

Below (if you care to be interest) is a brief summary for each major group of snakes and the likelihood of me finding them this trip.  I will use common names for your reading pleasure...

I have a great chance of finding watersnakes in any temperatures as long as the sun is out.  I anticipate finding banded watersnakes, common watersnakes, and diamond-backed watersnakes without much trouble.  It will be a lot harder to find plain-bellied watersnakes and Mississippi green watersnakes.  Salt marsh snakes are limited to the coast and I don't plan on looking for them this trip.

Diamond-backed Watersnake
Crayfish snakes
There are two species in the state but only one where I will be.  I don't expect finding these unless I find some stranded water hyacinths that I can flip and rake through. 

Crayfish Snake
Mud and Rainbow Snakes
Although February can be a good month to find rainbow snakes, both these species are difficult to find unless I specifically target them.  I really would need some minnow traps to increase my chances but it is unlikely that I will have the chance with such a short trip.  Again, if I find some stranded water hyacinths, my luck may change.

There are 3 species of rattlesnakes that I could find.  For the eastern diamond-backed rattlesnakes, I would need to find an area with lots of gopher tortoises.  I don't plan on spending that much time in high and dry habitats so my chances aren't good.  The canebrake (timber) rattlesnake will be a chance occurrence if I find a good abandoned house that has blown apart or an area of long discarded wood piles.  I could certainly flip a canebrake.  Pygmy rattlesnakes will be hard unless I target them which I don't plan on doing with the little time I have.  

Pygmy Rattlesnake
Ratsnakes and Cornsnakes
I will find these if I can find stuff, junk, and trash to flip over.  I just need to find this stuff.

Small Fossorial Snakes
I have a great chance of finding brown snakes, red-bellied snakes, ringneck snakes, wormsnakes, or earth snakes if I get out and roll logs.  I have identified some areas to look at when I get to LA to see about the log rolling potential.  I don't want to trespass anywhere so I will have to just wait and see.

Red-bellied snakes
Copperheads and Cottonmouths
If the sun is shining, I will find cottonmouths.  I will walk stream banks and the edges of swamps waiting for a cottonmouth to flash me its white mouth.  It may be too early in the year for copperheads but I may find one if I find large pieces of wood or tin to flip over.

Racers and Coachwhips
Racers will be a given but it is unlikely I find a coachwhip for the same reasons I am unlikely to run across a diamond-backed rattlesnake.  You never know though and I could get lucky.

Black Racer
It is probably too early in the year but if the sun gets really warm, I could find one basking in a shrub near a stream somewhere.

Kingsnakes and Milksnakes
If I decide to peel some bark off of rotten stumps, I should find scarlet kiingsnakes.  I should also find kingsnakes if I can find trash piles to flip.

Hognose and Pine Snakes
It is probably too early in the year for these guys but if the sun gets really warm, I could find one basking on a sand mound somewhere.  I would have to target them though.

Hognose Snake

Well, I am dreaming of snakes and I can't wait to get off the plane in New Orleans, hop in my rental car, and explore some habitats.  Now if I can just finish my talk and be present enough at the meeting for people to remember who I am (or maybe I can convince them to go snake hunting with me instead).

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

GoPro Walk

I got out for a quick walk at lunch today.  I couldn't go very far so I figured I would make it a GoPro Walk.  What is a GoPro Walk?  I am glad you asked.

A GoPro Walk is a walk during which I take photos with my GoPro.  The GoPro puts a fisheye bend to the world which makes the photos interesting.  Not always good photos but they are at least interesting.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Random Video Post

For those readers that do not subscribe to my YouTube channel, here are some recent videos that you have been missing.  Oddly enough, these videos are not snake related.  Make sure you watch them at 1080HD for the best experience.

The first video is from a short nature walk I took with my boys a few weeks ago.  They were determined to make the most of a snakeless day so they picked up some sticks and began a sword fight.  The younger two ended up picking on the oldest but that is okay since he normally dominates their physical contests.  Although not seen in this short video, I did have to end the sword play when my oldest grabbed a 10' long tree as his blade of choice.

The second video is just 4 seconds of my girls trying to navigate the snow in our backyard.  I wish I had more video of this but I saw the opportunity a few seconds too late.  However, I was able to capture a little of their antics as they try to run/fly over the snow.

The last video is from last night when I spent some time in the backyard with the big dog.  This beauty LOVES the snow and running through it.  Just enjoy the video and be sure to watch for the BIG smile on the big dog's face.

That is it for now - if you don't want to miss any more videos like these or any of my SNAKE videos, please remember to subscribe to my channel.

Stuck? NEVER!!!!!

I have been stuck lately.  Really, really stuck.  Maybe it was the cold I have finally just beaten?  Maybe it was the full moon this week?  Maybe it was the social overload of meet-ups and meetings I have been going to?  Maybe it was just my time of the month?  Whatever it was, I was stuck.

This blog post is an attempt to bust through the resistance and nasty goo that has me pinned to the floor.  Part of my success and progress in the last 18 months is that I no longer let myself wallow in my negative shit and crappy places.  I have found myself constantly looking for the bright spots that surround all of us if we just look for them.

The sunrise this morning is a great example of one of those bright spots if you just look for them.  I posted two photos of it on Instagram while still on the bus as I headed into Denver to work as a biostitute (interesting job title - maybe I should write about that).  This first photo was obligatory as I needed to purge the crappy night's sleep and look towards the bright sunrise.

[Actually my sleep wasn't so bad last night - I just didn't get enough of it.  I am currently reading George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones 5-Book Boxed Set so let's just say I am binge reading and forget to sleep.]

Looking East from I-25
This second photo was a surprise for me and made me wish I wasn't in a moving bus with very dirty windows.  I could have used a tripod and real camera to capture the beauty of Denver (yes - I just said a human ant farm was pretty), the sun, and the unique cloud formation wisping to the west from the tops of the buildings.  It is almost as if the sun itself is forcefully pushing the clouds away from Denver and me.

Looking South at Denver from I-25
Needless to say, I need to look for more moments like these to push me past my resistance.  They are there - just look for them Cameron.