Hey there every peoples!
I keep going on and on about this museum project of mine, but what exactly is the purpose of it all? Well the reason i use the most is to create a home for Central Coast fossils. But the Central Coast is really a spearhead for an even greater mission: to give a platform to the fossils who don’t seem to get much exposure
A daunting task to be sure. I am always fighting hard to hold the depression at bay and think positively. I am doing what i can to get the ball rolling. But one aspect that keeps rearing it’s ugly head is that of my academic prowess. “Oh, you need to go to a higher college!”, “You need a degree!”, “You HAVE to have the education that only a snooty, overpriced school can provide!” Well i thought i had escaped such a predicament by getting an AA in science from Cuesta and then try to find other avenues into the discipline. But i was told in a recent email that i need to have some heavy duty background in geology to not only understand stratigraphy, but even to have any hopes of getting onto BLM lands. As you may or may not know, pretty much all the good spots are on land owned by this agency, even a couple major deposits here on the Central Coast (ok, those may be Forestry Service, but I’ve heard they are just as strict). Now, presume i do get my museum built and the Central Coast’s fossil come to reside there? What then? Keep on looking! A museum with no active field programs is stale and not very exciting. Plus, i need to search other places like Barstow, John Day, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and all the others on the Hit List if I’m to ever have any chance of completing my goal to create a platform for the lesser known fossils of the west.
But that’s probably a pipe dream like the museum! In that same email, they went on at length about how important stratigraphic data is. Without it, no one in the scientific community would never study my specimens because they have no data. Pretty sure i stressed a couple times how i understand how important the collateral data is, and even mentioned that i do my best to collect it and would like to know how better to do so. But no, feel free to lecture me on how important strat data is and how worthless my stuff would be without it, because only a professional can decide whether or not i understand something. And his advice to remedy the situation? He hammered the fucking school crap again! Excuse me while i go “cope” with this for a moment.
Ok look, i understand school and education are very important (but then again, i might not understand it. I’ll let you decide whether or not i do, and if i don’t, be sure to belabor it even more!), but it has problems. I have a learning disability that used to cause me to despair because I’d never be able to meet the requirements to transfer to a university. The way i see it, the education system is fatally flawed in how it imposes a one size-fits all style of education on us. You will learn this way and that’s that. Oh, you have an issue that causes you to struggle in this system? Too bad, you fail, F!!! Something has got to give. This semester i had the fortune of meeting a nice young woman in my sculpting and my lap swimming classes. She’s had to struggle with school as well. She has missed a lot of school in her life because her Crohn’s disease and persistent bone tumors meant she was constantly in the hospital. We keep being told to persevere, that we should keep working towards that higher education. But what’s supposed to happen to people like us who have trouble with the system because of medical or mental issues? Are we just supposed to except that we’ll never attain that fancy, way-too-fucking-expensive piece of paper? As she said, people like us would probably flourish in our fields (me paleontology, her physical therapy) because we are very passionate and knowledgeable about them. But no, we are forced to undergo a process that obviously isn’t working for us; so since we don’t have a university diploma, we don’t get to partake in the one thing we want to do more than anything else.
So what does any of this have to do with the title? Well unlike education or entrance into your chosen field, there just might be alternative ways to tell the stories of lesser known fossils. Hell, I’ve been doing it with this blog. But there is only so much (or so little, depending on the post) that a paleo fanboy (let’s face it, that’s all i am) can do. I wrote a post on face book lamenting how i wish i could write a book on California’s fossil vertebrates. For starters, i have no idea how to write a book. Do you write it and then try to find a publisher? Or is it the other way around? How do you fund something that would require a lot of traveling for research and photography? How do you find an illustrator? Would i have to be working in some kind of time frame, under a deadline, or not?
Assuming i was able to start authoring a book it going to require an assload of research. Especially for a topic as diverse and deep as the fossil vertebrates of California. In most people’s eyes I’d be grossly unqualified. I don’t possess the aforementioned infernal degree. That and the fact I’m not associated with some fancy elite institution means i can’t get access to scientific articles on paper aggregating sites (or the journals themselves). And do you need academic clout to gain access to museum research libraries? And having no academic clout means i probably can’t get into museum collections to photograph specimens. Ok, maybe a few like Santa Barbara, Raymond Alf, and San Bernardino County; but asgreat as those places are, they are only a small membership in a greater collective of repositories housing California fossils.
I got a couple reassurances that this may not be as bad as i might think. One commenter told me that “the journey will qualify you”. And another commenter (actually someone i knew in high school) offered to do illustrations. I dunno. People are always telling me I’m a good writer. And this book would give me another way to tell the untold stories of the Central Coast’s fossils as well as many other localities in California (contrary to popular portrayal, California has more to it’s fossil record than Rancho La Brea). What do you think? Should i tackle such an endeavor? If so, you got any advice on how to get started? Or on any part of the process from idea to publication? I’d appreciate anything you got. Because if i pulled this off, even if my museum quest crashes and burns, I’ll still feel like i completed my mission.
Till next time!