Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Writing once more

It has been quite a while since I last kept a (fairly) regular work schedule. As my dear wife often says, "life is what happens while you're making plans", and that message has really been the description of life since... well, a few years now. I've been through several surgeries of the spine and eye, moved a few times, and been bogged down with either visiting doctors and physical therapists or making appointments to see them.


Whatever the new limits, which include entering my 60th year, I've regained a considerable level of my old "normal" and am determined to get back to work doing what I most love: studying and writing about animals. THIS blog will now be my link with readers and potential readers, to keep you informed of what I am working on and to give me some sense of there being deadlines.

Here's what's hot here! Besides the awful, muggy east-coast weather.

See the picture above? That is yours truly and his late, very dear dog, King (King is the good-looking one). Yes, I used to read to King, especially the brief news pieces in Science magazine and Herpetological Review. He was a very important part of my life from 1998 until 2009, and from him I learned that we (humans collectively) and I (specifically) may have underestimated or dismissed the intelligence of animals because we didn't know HOW to understand their languages. Initially, even though I could often only guess at what King was saying, I was fairly certain it had nothing to do with mathematics, prime integers, or any of the other things SETI people seem to think will dominate the first conversations between humans and – if they are out there – extraterrestrials. Think about it for a moment: which of these opening lines do you think would really get an interplanetary relationship off to a good start: 
a.      “Wow! I love the way you guys can moderate sub-angstrom wave oscillations,” or
b.      “Welcome to Earth! Let’s get a pizza and some beers and get to know each other!”
Fact: You’d get me hooked with option b. King, too.

So I am now chest-deep in the writing of the manuscript (translation: at 11 chapters, 31 000 words and going) with a self-set goal of completing the book by Christmas, 2013. Seems like a long time, doesn't it? The difficulty with it being an easy target (besides my vision thing) is that the research covers an incredibly broad swipe of the sciences. I've got pertinent data concerning intelligence and relationships in mammals, birds, reptiles, and octopuses, and each of those groups has amazing stories -- uh, data -- that supports the argument for their considerable mental faculties. No spoiler alerts yet. If you'd like to be a reviewer, someone who gets to read the rough drafts and then make suggestions for clarification and other improvements, please a) join this Blog and b) let me know of your interest. If I get responses, I'll post draft excerpts here on my Blog.

Cheerio for now, and good reading!

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