Saturday, July 4, 2015

THE JANE DIARIES, #51

Blooretyrannus; in honor and recognition of the artistic innovations of Ronald Langley Bloore (1925-2009), Canadian painter and art historian. View his works at ronbloore.ca.
June 28, 2015

10:00 am: Over breakfast I watched some of Salerno's J. D. Salinger biodoc, which is excellent. I am finally resuming the description of the vomer; yesterday and the previous evening went to my part in the Birthday Party program for Jane’s 10th anniversary at the Burpee Museum. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. was also there to give a talk on the science in the film Jurassic World.

10:37 am: Done with the vomer for the moment; resuming the palatine.

10:46 am: Time for some more Café con leche with coconut creamer and half-and-half.

11:01 am: Back to the palatine!

Music: Beethoven’s 5th et 6th.

11:55 am: Stop for a shower. I spent much of Friday and Saturday drafting the Table of Contents in order to obtain an accurate (as possible) word count of the manuscript for the publisher.

9:33 pm: Hunger is already carving at my insides so I’m starting with a plate of fresh mozzarella, slices of Pinot Grigio salami, garlic-stuffed olives, and a 200 mL bottle of Sanpellegrino Chinotto.

Music: as earlier.

I stopped by the office earlier to photograph the rapid prototype cranium in ventral view.

10:23 pm: Stomach is tortured by hunger again; I’ll stifle it with retsina!

10:35 pm: I’m effectively done for the night.

740 pages reached; revising page 315.

Night thoughts among tyrannosaurs
Symbols dead
Signals born
Demon,
I drive you.
You’re just one world
O my kingdom for a door
To shut you out.

June 29, 2015

9:47 pm: Back to work on the palatine!

10:12 pm: Dammit – hunger gnaws again.

10:16 pm: Hopefully tortilla rounds and seltzer water will work.

Music: Beethoven’s 5th et 6th.

10:50 pm: Time for a glass of retsina. I worked on the hemal arch figures in photoshop earlier today, and I have worked on them intermittently over the past several weeks when the situation and time permits. I spent several hours today filing reprints away into the cabinets, and I’ve cleared out my work area of boxes.

I finally have elbow room and a space that I can work with, with three large tables: one to work at with a desktop computer and flatscreen monitor, with plenty of space for casts, lamps and reprints; a large coffee table for wireless tech, desktop CPU, CD player/radio, and printer/flatbed scanner; and a long and low coffee table for my notebooks, and stacks of books and journals that pertain to the projects I am currently working on.

Overall, it’s an ideal arrangement; there’s even enough space – and a chair – to receive a guest. It’s as much a parlor as a study, which is what I’ve aimed to make out of this room from the start. Regardless, there’s plenty of boxes to empty and many bookshelves to purchase and fill before that. Presently I’m backing up my latest work onto the external hard drive.

742 pages reached; revising page 316.

June 30, 2015

9:16 pm: Back to the manuscript after a day busy with preparations for the field, and a photo shoot for the book jacket. I now resume the palatine. It was an early start to the day, so I am powering myself with a cup of coffee.

10:04 pm: Fading fast, despite the coffee.

743 pages reached.

July 1, 2015

9:14 pm: Back to the palatine. Another day nearly completely erased that has left my mind slow and labored.

10:13 pm: Bloody Hell – my stamina’s flagging already.

745 pages reached; revising page 323.

Night thoughts among tyrannosaurs
Of the plume & languor:
A Gwendolyn kingfisher
In a Dickinson jar
& the cigarette dot
Swung across Night’s snowy occellations
By the fish hook lacquers
You're not ready now
but you will be later;
Thou shalt have no deities
Before you,
Thou shalt keep your heel
Upon the death’s head,
Thou shalt accept the Universe
Before your fantasies,
Thou shalt slay religion
Enter history
& murder thyself,
Daily.

July 2, 2015

9:48 pm – 10:48 pm: Red-inked the hard copy of the ms; in the midst of the dentary teeth.

July 3, 2015

Today was wiped out by preparations for the field; we leave for southeastern Montana on the 7th. I am left exhausted. Sent off to sleep by the biodoc Jack Kerouac: King of the Beats.

July 4, 2015


8:54 pm: A relatively early start, but the day’s had an early beginning spent to prepare lectures and labs for the field course. I can feel that I’m flagging, so I’ll start with the red ink and bring the vomer closer to completion. A new month, so it’s time to save this as a new draft, for July 2015.

9:09 pm: Red ink done for the vomer; now that for the palatine.

9:41 pm: Making good headway through the palatine red ink revisions, but hunger strikes again.

10:00 pm: Hopefully tortilla rounds, olives, and lemon-lime seltzer water will hold me for a while.

10:08 pm: Just completed the last of the red ink for the palatine; although there are some loose threads in the description, I am too fatigued to face writing them tonight. I’m going to go upstairs to chill some water in the freezer in preparation for some La Fée (Absinthe Parisienne) later tonight. I’ll decide how to proceed once I return.

10:14 pm: The next bone in line is the ectopterygoid, but I don’t want to start revisions to it until I am completely done with the palatine. Ergo, I will continue with the red inking of the dentary teeth descriptions.

Music: Beethoven’s 2nd and 4th.

10:49 pm: Stopping at the 15th dentary tooth; time for La Fée!

Night thoughts among tyrannosaurs
The poisoned cloak has burned me
To your bosom

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

THE JANE DIARIES, ENTRY #50

Night...Night...always toward Night.
NOTE: The caption in the previous entry said ‘borrowed time” without explanation; the Jane monograph is going through negotiations with a publisher and, of course, there’s a deadline.

June 19, 2015

~10:20 am: A relatively late start, but I have the energy to take on the quadrate!
12:31 pm: I’ve made excellent progress on the quadrate; the last part to complete is the medial mandibular condyle. Following that, I’ll check the inked-up hard copy to see what revisions I have in there. Time for a breather.

10:15 pm: Back to the quadrate; all that’s left is the medial mandibular condyle and the red ink in the hard copy.
10:38 pm: Description is done, now to check the red ink.
10:43 pm: Terrible gnawing in my stomach – back in a sec.
10:48: olives, retsina – back to work.
11:00 pm: Finished with the quadrate; now, on to the prefrontal!
11:09 pm: I’ve rapidly run out of stamina; I’ll have to continue with this tomorrow.

June 20, 2015

11:18 am: Terribly late start, but the coffee’s on and I’m resuming with the prefrontal.
1:06 pm: Break. 723 pages reached. Before this break, I finished the prefrontal and started on the frontal.
1:30 pm: Resumed with frontal.
~5-minute restroom break.
2:57 pm: Almost done with the frontal; I still have to make the red-ink revisions and add data from some small T. rex frontals in the Dinosaur Discovery Museum collections (a federal repository) that we’ve collected over the years on BLM regulated lands in Montana. Along the way, I’ve been cleaning up mistakes made by Gilmore (1946) on the osteology of the Cleveland skull.
3:15 pm: Break.

9:28 pm: Back to the frontal.
9:37 pm: I am done with the frontal for now, but I will return to it once I am able to see the other specimens at the museum later this week. Now, on to the parietal.
10:11 pm: Hungry - time for a quick break.
10:23 pm: Back to the parietal!
11:06 pm: Hunger is gnawing again – tortilla chip rounds and watered-down crancherry juice didn’t hold me for long – time for olives and retsina!
11:11 pm: Back to work!

Music: Mozart’s Requiem.

11:25: Starting to flag.
11:41 pm: Baking up onto the external hard drive.

727 pages reached. (In terms of revisions, I am at page 288).

June 21, 2015

9:38 pm: Resuming with the braincase.
11:14 pm: Progressing through the braincase at a good rate, and have reached the occipital condyle (next is the laterosphenoid). Time for a refreshment break (the usual).
11:20 pm: Losing steam.

729 pages reached, revising page 294.

June 22, 2015
8:58 pm: Back to the braincase!
9:51 pm: Dammit, hunger gnaws again – time for a brief break.
10:05 pm: Back to work on the basioccipital.
10:44 pm: Good grief, being tired and hungry does not help with concentration on the task at hand. Time for a brief refreshment break for a quantum of satiety and a less agitated frame of mind.
10:50 pm: I’m back (4 olives, 1 glass retsina); I have to backtrack a little because I rushed ahead, which is always a sign of fatigue and impatience. I am usually good with being strict with myself, but sometimes impatience gets the upper hand.
10:58: Fading out.

Night thoughts among tyrannosaurs
On the midnight barque
In the painted tomb
On the day of night
The brush marks
The raft afloat
& sable welds
A foil star
To the swaddling prow;
His face
Her smile.

June 23, 2015

10:01 am: Another late start to put a finish to the basisphenoid.
10:21 am: Done with the braincase, and moving on to the primary palate.
10:41 am: Started the vomer!
11:45 am: Working on the stem of the vomer (completed the rostral process and the keel). Taking a break.

10:02 pm: Resuming the vomer.
10:41 pm: Hunger gnaws; time for a short break.
11:02: Finished the olives and retsina, but I’m too tired to carry on; the vomer’s nearly done. The last hurdle is the joint surface for the palatine, comparisons, and the red ink in the hard copy. After that, the palatine, my favorite of the palatal bones…

June 24, 2015

9:25 pm: It has been an early and exhausting day; I can’t face the last of the vomer tonight, but I’ll steal ahead to the palatine for a while. I didn’t have the opportunity to resupply olives and retsina today; perhaps tomorrow.
10:07 pm: Dammit, hunger again.
10:13 pm: Hopefully a banana and grape+orange juice will hold me for a little longer; I put some water in the freezer for some Amerique 1912 (red) a little later. Back to the palatine. Backing up to the external hard drive as I go.
10:28 pm: Good grief – I can only last an hour at this.

735 pages reached, revising page 311.

References cited

Gilmore, C. W. 1946. A new carnivorous dinosaur from the Lance Formation of Montana. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 106:1-19.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

THE JANE DIARIES, ENTRY #49

On borrowed time.

June 8, 2015

9:23 pm: My goal tonight for the description, is just to wrap up the joint surface for the jugal; anything else is icing.
Stimulant: ¾ cup (measured out) coffee, vanilla caramel creamer, half & half.
10:00 pm: Done for now with the postorbital; I’ll check the hard copy to take care of any last loose threads tomorrow morning. Tonight I managed to write up the joint surface for the jugal and complete the section on the jugal process and orbital cavity; small but significant successes. I’ll sneak ahead to the squamosal to summarize the condition and completeness of each bone in BMRP 2002.4.1, and also that for the comparative specimen, CMNH 7541.
690 pages reached.
Evening refreshment: three olives, one relatively generous glass of retsina in an ornate goblet.
Music: Beethoven’s 7th and 8th.
10:40 pm: In terms of red ink, I made it to the mandibular ramus! However, I am starting to flag.

June 9, 2015

9:52 am: This morning’s goals are to make sure the postorbital description is done and to make headway on the squamosal.
10:30 pm: Back to the squamosal description! It’s been an emotionally hurly-burly night, with issues cropping up around the schedule of this summer’s field season. Ergo, the retsina’s ahead of schedule.
11:45 pm: I’m starting to flag, even after today’s late start.
11:47 pm: Yipes, Word just spontaneously crashed – luckily I had just saved the Jane ms! All’s O.K.; I just checked the section I added and it is still there!
695 pages reached.

June 11, 2015

5:21 pm: I’ve a bunch of other commitments that have pulled me away from the Jane ms. I have a sliver of time today to resume the squamosal! Stopped at ~6:05 pm.
10:22 pm: Back to the caudal process of the squamosal! Dammit – Word is acting up, each time I save a document the spinning ball appears and I wait minutes for the operation to end. Time to back up all of this on the external hard drive. Good grief – now I can’t move from Adobe Reader to Word without the spinning ball – I’ll have to restart the computer once the backup’s done. I’ve been waiting for days to return to this!

June 12, 2015

10:32 am: Nothing accomplished last night owing to issues with backing up onto the hard drive. I had to force the backup to quit this morning, and then restart it – twice – before running a virus check that took at least and hour and a half. Right now I’ll try to back up the computer again. Hopefully it’ll take a few minutes and not all day.
10:54 am: Finally – order restored!
12:54: Resuming the squamosal while I await a data set for another project.

June 14, 2015

9:49 am: Back to the ms after several days of working on a tyrannosauroid phylogeny project with a collaborator.
Stimulant: McCafe breakfast blend, half & half, vanilla & caramel creamer.
Music: Beethoven’s 9th.
10:08 am: Done with the squamosal, now on with the quadratojugal!
12:30 pm: Making excellent progress on the quadratojugal (I’ve made it to the lateral surface of the squamosal process), but it is time to break for lunch.
700 pages reached; this increase in page length will level off once I’m past the axis.
9:52 pm: Back at it!
10:57: Cleared pas the squamosal process, shaft, and lateral foramen. Time for a quick break!
Refreshment: retsina, three garlic-stuffed olives.
Music: Beethoven’s 5th et 6th.

June 15th, 2015

9:05 pm: Back to it! Tonight’s goal is to wrap up the quadratojugal, only the jugal process and the ventral quadrate process to go!
10:09 pm: Nearly done with the quadratojugal (aside from red ink in the hard copy)! Time for olives and retsina!
10:33 pm: Taking another breather from the quadratojugal.

June 16th, 2015

10:48: Another unacceptably late start; this morning’s goal is to complete the last few loose threads of the quadratojugal description. Shouldn’t take all that long.
11:09: Done with the quadratojugal! Now I move on to the quadrate.
12:03 pm: Time for lunch.
708 pages reached.

June 17th, 2015

9:16 am: Yesterday I was early to wake, which left me exhausted by the time the night came on and so no work was done. However, I now have the entire morning to forge ahead with the quadrate.
Music: Mozart’s Requiem.
9:29 pm: I am very tired, again; I’ll try to inch the manuscript forward.
9:36 pm: 714 pages reached.
10:17: Just drafted a preliminary sketch of the eruption of a ‘lateral’ tooth of the maxilla (9 steps) and the dentary (8 steps) in Adobe Illustrator; on the face of it, similar with some key differences. However, I need to double-check this against the actual specimen.
Earlier today I worked on photographic plates of the hemal arches.
I’ll red-ink the hard copy after I get some refreshment…
Refreshment: the usual.
Music: As earlier.
10:25 pm: Resuming the mark-up of the hard copy ms.
10:40 pm: I’m getting worn down from this. I’ve made terrible progress today, but it is more than nothing.
10:53: Made a list of candidate bones for 20 color plates.

No night thoughts among tyrannosaurs
No Antarctic halo’d brow
No spectre fount
No worm from the well
The night harpooned & flensed of hours;
Starry seconds spangle
The sarcophagus
That panic lids

June 18, 2014

10:24 pm: Another terribly late start, which does not make me optimistic for my progress. Writing description requires energy that in these late hours I struggle to muster. I’ll start with the hard copy of the ms.
11:04 pm: Lost steam.

To bed, to bed, O Hell to bed.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

JUST SAID NO

Had I jumped in, I would have given the commercial trade in dinosaur fossils the legitimacy it craves from scientists. Publicly it needs us so say the trade's doing Science and society a service, however indirectly; after all, qualified endorsements are always good for business.

Back in January of this year I was invited to participate in the Dino Death Match (DDM) documentary.

I declined.

Why? Because it struck me that it would turn out as an infomercial for the dueling dinosaurs, which are privately owned specimens that are still for sale (as far as I am aware). I wanted none of it.

The topic of the doc - the Nanotyrannus “controversy” - dodges the substantive issue: the people who sell dinosaur fossils into private collections. But I'm sure the primary talking heads wouldn't want to talk about that, even if the topic was on the table. Interesting that a documentarian hasn't pursued the subject, so far.

I haven’t yet seen DDM, but I will as soon as it is available to stream (I don’t get the Nat Geo channel from my provider). However, one of the online clips makes it clear that the dueling dinosaurs are a focal point, if not the focus, of the doc. I made the right decision.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

THE JANE DIARIES, ENTRY #48

Morning starts with Jane ms, excel, Darwin, Milou et Tintin, et De Sade.
June 6, 2015—I’ve been at this for over a month, but without keeping track or providing timely updates. The manuscript has reached 679 pages, and it will grow until this pass of revisions and additions to the manuscript are made. On this next-to-final pass I am finding many omissions in the description; it is disconcerting how many there are.

My guide through the manuscript is a hard copy of an earlier version, and so far I am at page 140 of it, but I am on page 209 of the active version. This means that the hard copy is only 610 pages long! Regardless, it is the copy that I read in the evening with red pen in hand for revision of the digital copy on the next day, or days, or weeks.

Music tonight and earlier today: Beethoven, Symphonie No. 5 c-moll op. 67 & Symphonie No. 6 F-dur op. 68 “Pastorale”. Conductor Herbert Von Karajan, Berliner Philharmoniker.

Nocturnal refreshment: three garlic-stuffed olives, one glass of chilled Tsintali retsina.

Night’s eye closes over the mind

June 7, 2015—9:26 am: relatively early start; today’s goal is to wrap up the description of the postorbital. I’ve cleared past the frontal and laterosphenoid processes.

9:09 pm: now a review over the sections: cornual process – done; body – done; squamosal process – that's where I left off in the morning and still needs work…

Stimulant: one cup (measured out) of reheated coffee + half & half + pumpkin pie spice creamer.

10:17 pm: Completed the joint surface for the squamosal. And now, if I have stamina for it, the joint surface for the jugal; looks like I won’t be done with the postorbital until tomorrow…drat - I’ll return to red-inking the hard copy instead of writing new osteological description.

Nocturnal refreshment: olives, retsina.

Music tonight: Beethoven, Symphonie No. 7 A-dur op. 921, Symphonie No. 8 F-dur op. 93.

Dammit – only 11:11 pm, and I’m so tired that I’m caving in on myself in the circadian prison. At least I’ve reached the palatine in the hard copy. Also today I started on the photographic plates for the hemal arches.

Page count: 687.


Friday, May 29, 2015

THE JANE DIARIES, ENTRY #47

After four straight hours of assembly, Steve Clawson and I take a moment to appreciate the task we've accomplished - an assembled rapid prototype of the skull of Hell's Belle (a.k.a. 'Jane'). Photograph by Lisa Matel-Crumble. 
Yesterday I had a fantastic time with Mr. Steven R. Clawson (Master’s candidate, California State University, Fullerton) assembling a rapid prototype of Jane’s skull with clipping shears, a glue gun, and stirring straws! We started our task at 10:45 am and steamrolled through until 3:00 pm! Our greatest challenge was in the distortion inherent in the bones – assembling a skull in this way is an excellent test of the level of distortion that a fossil really has.

One aspect that we could not control was the dorsoventral crushing to the left maxilla, which artificially lowered the height of the ascending ramus of the maxilla and the lacrimal; this is evident where the caudal end of the nasals overrides the lacrimals, not the other way around. We also found that this distortion was carried over and enhanced in the orbitotemporal region.

The purpose of our hours of effort was to produce for the monograph a series of multiple view plates based on a striking approximation of the assembled fossil skull, and to feature it on the jacket design.

How did this collaboration come about? Back in February I attended the Burpee Museum’s annual PaleoFest, where Steven had a live, public demo of laser scanning and rapid prototyping; the prints he had on display included a full print of Jane’s skull that stopped me in my tracks: it was printed in a white plastic with a matte finish, so it looked like actual, bleached bone; the skull looked light, streamlined, beautiful, and epic! I was amazed to learn that Steven had assembled it the previous day; I immediately knew that I had found the cover image for the monograph!

Although the assembled print looked outstanding, there were a few issues with the orientation of some bones and the completeness of others. I asked Steven if he’d consider printing out a second skull for the two of us to assemble together for the monograph. I am very happy that he agreed!

One of the primary benefits of this technology is that missing bones can simply be printed from the complete opposite side. Therefore, we assembled the most complete version of Jane's skull that was possible, based on the bones that were preserved.

Toward the end of the assembly, when we had the skull inverted and while we were placing in the ectopterygoids, I had a moment of epiphany upon seeing the entire skull together (sans braincase and pterygoids). I have been so focused on each bone as separate entities for years that seeing them together as a coherent and integrated whole came as a sharp and welcome jolt. That moment has opened up for me an entirely new perspective on the specimen that I will use to truss the narrative thread in the monograph.

A huge amount of effort goes into producing a rapid prototype. For the print that Steven and I assembled, Dr. Joseph Peterson (UW-OshKosh) and his student, Kelsey Rients, had first scanned casts of each bone, a process that took 40 hours over several months. Steven then printed the digital files, a process that took 200 hours, it then took him an additional 40 hours to prepare the prints for assembly. Finally, it took the better part of the day for the two of us to assemble, trim, and glue the prints together into a coherent whole.


*          *          *          *          *


Over the past few weeks I’ve returned to the revising the Jane monograph for publication, but that effort has been in earnest since last week. I am making a next-to-final pass through the manuscript patching up holes in the description, adding comparisons, and making minor, but necessary fixes to typos and the like. When my mind to too exhausted to continue, I then switch gears to drafting the index. Presently I’m in the midst of the description of the jugal, with the rest of the skull, jaws, and postcranial skeleton to go! Also on the slate is to double the number of photographic plates so that each bone is covered. All in all, it’s an Everest and Niagara of tasks.