Wednesday, June 24, 2015


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


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


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


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.