03 April, 2022

Ohio and an Epic Backlog

Big (and sad) news: In January this year, I packed up and moved to... Ohio. Not my first choice of place to live but I moved for a great job that will provide me with the time and resources to do a lot more traveling. Also GREAT birds here. Nuthatches are the best.

I have not been great about uploading my photos since late 2018, and honestly did not do much photography at all during the start of the pandemic in 2020. Since moving to Ohio, I have reinvented my "state park" challenge for Ohio, which is significantly easier than for Texas because Ohio is so small and I'm right in the middle of it. Getting back into photography meant I had to do something about my tens of thousands of photos (hopefully not hundreds of thousands, but we'll see) sitting on my harddrive waiting to be uploaded.

So among the deluge of photos from around Ohio and my recent trip to Miami Beach, you will find old pictures from Texas popping up. And also new pictures, because I'm going back for the bioblitz in May, and hope to be coming back on a regular basis.

I'm so, so sad to leave Spider Haven, but have a yard almost 10x bigger in Ohio, and I already have a resident groundhog causing trouble. I'm going to learn from my mistakes in Texas by landscaping early and not letting invasives take over.

If anybody has hookups for cool nature buds in Ohio (or other states within a 4 hour drive of Columbus), I would love to tag along with another iNat fanatic to learn more about the habitats in the area. I have already started finding salamanders and I am obsessed.

Posted on 03 April, 2022 23:52 by nanofishology nanofishology | 2 comments | Leave a comment

23 May, 2021

Brood X and Me

When I was a little kid in Seattle, I somehow ended up with large a rubber cicada toy. Maybe my dad bought it for me at a museum gift shop. We didn't have cicadas where I lived, so all I knew about them at the time was what was written on the card that came with it. In a way, they were exotic and unknowable to me.

After 28 years in the Pacific Northwest, I moved down to Austin and spent the first few years wondering what kind of weird bird spent all night screaming in the summers. It wasn't until I saw my first Neotibicen that I realized they were real, they were in reach, and they are LOUD. I fell in love, hard, and have felt blessed by every cicada I have ever seen, from Texas, to New Zealand, to Malawi.

I have had a rough couple years. I was laid off in the beginning of 2019 and was so stressed about saving money at all costs that I essentially stopped going on the nature trips that brought me joy. It took over a year to find a job, and by then the pandemic was in full swing. I am in an at-risk group, so the large groups of unmasked people filling up the few parks that were still open were a no-go. It has been almost two and a half years since my last real trip, and I have spent most of that time at home.

Enter Brood X.

As soon as I heard the largest group of periodic cicadas were emerging this year, I knew I had to go see them. Initially, my plan was to drive to Tennessee, to avoid the nightmare of flying during a pandemic. But, thanks to the vaccines becoming widely available (and my own status of being fully vaccinated as of April), I felt comfortable enough to book a flight to Cicada Ground Zero, Maryland/Virginia/DC. And so I'm going later this week and I couldn't be more excited!

I have been referring to this trip as a pilgrimage, because that's really what it is. And Brood X is symbolic to me in more ways than signifying the end of a tumultuous period of uncertainty and fear. I tend to keep to myself, so most (if not all) of y'all are not aware I am queer and agender (this puts me in the transgender bucket). I use neopronouns (fe/fin/fizz, rhymes with he/him/his) but am fine with they/them. I have never liked my birth name and am changing my name to Kai. I've struggled with how I present myself to the world for a long time, in part because of how traumatic it was to be totally rejected by my mom when I first came out as a teen.

Many of you will no doubt have noticed the wave of trans-phobic legislation popping up in the US recently. This has taken a toll in part because many don't realize how many people like me there are, being trans but silently passing by unnoticed and suffering deeply for it. We are everywhere, and even if you don't know me in person, I guarantee you have trans people in your life whether you know it or not.

In truth, I have delayed coming out because it was legal to refuse to hire somebody and legal to fire somebody just because they were trans until after I started my current job. Even now, Texas does not recognize non-binary genders, so I will be able to update my Washington birth certificate, but I cannot update my drivers license. I work with several people who openly believe that people like me don't deserve basic human rights.

I have always been contrarian. If I am told I can't do something, it just makes me want to do it more. So now that I have the security of a job, and now that gender identity is a federally protected class, I'm going to be fully myself, and this includes the necessary act of changing my name.

So just like Brood X, I'm ready to emerge from the pandemic in a different form than I entered it. Although, maybe I won't scream quite as loudly. :)

xoxo Kai Wren Joaquin

Posted on 23 May, 2021 20:04 by nanofishology nanofishology | 1 comment | Leave a comment

10 February, 2019

Blinding Austin with (Caterpillar) Science

Earlier this week, I had the surreal experience where people paid money to have me show them videos of caterpillars pooping (??) and I got to talk into a microphone and everything? Anyway, it was a ton of fun, even if it was only a ten minute presentation (?!). At least I got to defend mosquitos in the debate (and you BET mosquitos won).

The event was part of a quarterly series of shows in Austin called the Dionysium. It's essentially an intellectual variety show, and I will have to check it out if I have found a job by the time the next one rolls around (but that's another post ;_;)

The presentation file is here! (very large because it is full of embedded videos, though sped up VERY FAST to fit into ten minutes!): https://www.dropbox.com/s/iohrnyj1ctvk3ef/2019%20Dionysium%20Drowning%20in%20Caterpillars.pptx?dl=0

Original event posting in Austin Chronicle: https://www.austinchronicle.com/events/arts/theatre/the-dionysium-bugs-2380669/

Posted on 10 February, 2019 08:15 by nanofishology nanofishology | 3 comments | Leave a comment

24 September, 2018

Lookin’ for a new JOB

Howdy y’all!

I found out on Friday that my company is moving to the middle of nowhere, Massachusetts next year, and... uh... I’m doubtful anything they could offer me would be enough to leave TEXAS and MY PEOPLE in Texas. I’m going to try to negotiate for working remotely, BUT I’m not sure they’ll go for it.

SO I’m casting out my job net as far and as wide as possible! I am currently a Polymer Research Scientist in R&D doing 50/50 wet lab/project management work, prepping for the PMP exam. Background in chemical/biomedical engineering and nanotech with a Masters from UT Austin, 12 years experience working in science/tech, 6 years specifically in hands-on polymer and/or nanotech lab reseach. I ALSO serve as the Director of Outreach and Education for my Master Naturalist chapter. ALSO work as a science communicator, arguably both with and independently from my TxMN chapter, online and in person.

I am up for any challenge and willing to switch industries as long as I stay in the Austin area. Current job in in San Marcos (90 mile daily commute...), so I’m willing to drive A LOT if necessary. In theory, I’d love to work for naturey non-profits or gov agencies BUT I have student loans and oh boy.

Supposedly R&D isn’t moving until next summer so I theoretically have time, but also my current job has been unnecessarily stressful and I actually started job hunting before this news came out.

If anybody has leads or secret jobs or a pile of money they don’t need, I would be most appreciative in receiving the info and/or pile of money.

Posted on 24 September, 2018 00:18 by nanofishology nanofishology | 2 comments | Leave a comment

02 July, 2018

Moth Shirt (Fundraiser)

If you pay much attention to where my observations in iNat pop up on the map, you may notice I... uh... get around a bit. I drive A LOT in the name of citizen science, and car maintenance is expensive--more expensive than I had anticipated, apparently!

So in anticipation of MOTH WEEK! and also to pay for emergency car expenses that are not in my budget ;_; I've launched a fundraiser! The fundraiser ends on July 21 (The day Moth Week starts!), and shirts will ship out soon after.

So Many Moths / So Little Time


Posted on 02 July, 2018 20:55 by nanofishology nanofishology | 2 comments | Leave a comment

01 May, 2018

Alysa's [insane] City Nature Challenge 2018

note to self: add route maps for each day

Grasshopper Dance-off (Bastrop State Park): https://youtu.be/1AQaWrDZmZ4
Barn Swallow Chicks in Nest (Bastrop State Park): https://youtu.be/zKiehSd75HM
Antlion vs Harvester Ant (Hornsby Bend in Travis County): https://youtu.be/E3bhQkiCQ80
The Duck Whisperer (Old Settler's Park in Round Rock): https://youtu.be/_WO4iQIyQuo

Posted on 01 May, 2018 22:20 by nanofishology nanofishology | 0 comments | Leave a comment

08 April, 2018

Alysa's List of Del Rio Bioblitz Highlights

(list is still in progress! Be PATIENT jeeez)

Eight human observations (7 linked; 8th: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/12218166)
this Black-throated Sparrow video: https://youtu.be/a3P0LeGAY1s
these Cave Swallows (video): https://youtu.be/5pYzwrxOvdY
this cricket video: https://youtu.be/m4bs9uGnjMo
THESE DANCING SCORPIONS: https://youtu.be/Zn3ce2tEAb0
This CUTE LITTLE BEE taking a cactus flower bath: https://youtu.be/K9gvLta2A4o (featuring the real live voices of me and @silversea_starsong with @psyllidhipster doing backup)
This Blue-grey Gnatcatcher with ANGRY EYEBROWS: https://youtu.be/9U9yNGkYq0w (my first time seeing the breeding plumage! Silly birbs!)
Lark Sparrow: https://youtu.be/FWZk2VXQjOY

Posted on 08 April, 2018 05:58 by nanofishology nanofishology | 15 observations | 2 comments | Leave a comment

17 February, 2018

Exciting Travels Upcoming!

  1. I have finalized the logistical nightmare that was planning for a week-long business trip in Paris while arranging pet-sitting for 6 special needs cats and now I can actually start thinking about what to do on my day off in Paris. I'm flying into CDG early Saturday morning, will be meeting up with a friend downtown. I have never been to mainland Europe. Where are good/easy places to see LOTS OF GOOD BIRDS? Thnx
  2. Now I can plan for the Bioblitz in Del Rio!
    @silversea_starsong and @psyllidhipster When do y'all plan to arrive in Austin? Would you like to leave at the buttcrack of dawn on Thursday? Leave on Wednesday and take lots of "rest stops"? I don't have to pay for petsitting for my Paris trip so I can afford be in Del Rio longer. Still need to head back to Austin on Sunday, probably late morning/early afternoon.

@alisonnorthup Are you riding with @hydaticus or me? Do you need to borrow any camping equipment?

Also: I am taking my car to get serviced next week so we don't have any surprises on the way!

Posted on 17 February, 2018 01:24 by nanofishology nanofishology | 31 comments | Leave a comment

19 December, 2017

A look back on my iNat career

I've been meaning to do this for a while. Do I need to say I have an addictive personality?

Somebody stage an intervention (after City Nature Challenge 2018, anyway)

Update: I used the iNat export feature (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/export) to make a really quick observation vs time graph and it's essentially the same!:

Posted on 19 December, 2017 02:31 by nanofishology nanofishology | 10 comments | Leave a comment

29 November, 2017

TAMU Insect Collection Open House: January 7, 2017 @ 9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Texas A&M Entomology Open House?!?! Count me in!


I'll be driving up from Austin, and have space in the car if anybody wants a free ride. Who else is going?!
@sambiology @hydaticus @kimberlietx @wildcarrot @gcwarbler @ncowey

Posted on 29 November, 2017 19:48 by nanofishology nanofishology | 5 comments | Leave a comment