Sunday, December 27, 2020

Year-end Wrap-up

Year-end Wrap-up

This calendar year has been challenging, to put it politely, for everyone. Many people have lost family members, friends, pets, or multiples of each. Not every tragedy was directly related to the global novel coronavirus pandemic, but everything was complicated by that pall. Businesses failed or took heavy losses. In-person socializing has been nearly non-existent, at least for those who behave in the responsible ways that epidemiologists advise. You have my empathy, and sincere condolences where that applies. What good news is there?

Much of our "bugwatching" was done close to home in 2020, like this angle-winged katydid, Microcentrum sp. in our backyard.

My wife has remained miraculously healthy because her coworkers have been disciplined in their social interactions outside of the workplace. We celebrated another friend’s victory over COVID-19 after she had been on a ventilator. In record time she was out birding again, between physical therapy appointments and at-home exercise regimens.

We managed to get outdoors, though not as frequently as we had hoped. Colorado has a new state park, Fisher's Peak State Park! We got to make one last invertebrate survey there before it opened. We also participated in a responsibly executed, socially-distanced bioblitz in one of the local open spaces not open to the public. We were even finally able to blacklight at Jimmy Camp Creek Park without rain.

A nice mydas fly, Neomydas sp., from the bioblitz at Jimmy Camp Creek Park, Colorado Springs, Colorado, July 18, 2020.

Our one long-distance trip was to visit my wife’s parents in northeast Kansas in mid-summer. We found lots of insects and birds at various points along the Missouri River. Missouri in particular has many parks and conservation areas to explore.

Common Sanddragon dragonfly, Progomphus obscurus, in downtown Leavenworth, Kansas, July 25, 2020.

Now for a truly joyous announcement: The major reason this blog has been dormant is not one but two book contracts I needed to fulfill. Both manuscripts are now completed, but I am at liberty to speak only of Wasps: The Astonishing Diversity of a Misunderstood Insect, published by Princeton University Press. It is available for pre-order in the U.S. and Canada only (see link in sidebar), and will be widely available in late February. The book currently has no publisher abroad, so if you are a “foreign” publisher, or can suggest one, please let me know.

I encourage readers to please order and purchase my books through their local, independent bookseller if at all possible. Thank you. The other book will likely come out next fall, but naturally I will post updates here as I am permitted to by the publishing house. Meanwhile, I have at least two other ideas in mind that I need to peddle to prospective buyers.

Steel Blue Cricket Killer wasp, Chlorion aerarium, from Leavenworth, Kansas, July 21, 2020.

In other news, with my major online client in limbo, I will need to seek new revenue streams in 2021. Please feel free to refer any potential contractors to me. All my speaking engagements for 2020 were cancelled for obvious reasons, and I do not see anything changing for in-person events until at least 2022.

Western Green Hairstreak, Callophrys affinis, from what is now Fisher's Peak State Park, Colorado, June 28, 2020.

Thank you for your patience while this blog was in diapause. Because of the wasp book, you will likely see numerous future posts about Hymenoptera, or perhaps an entire new website devoted just to the book. We shall see. I also want to add a new tab to this website, featuring links to where you can find more of my writing online.

Remember that your own personal setbacks and successes are not trivial. You deserve empathy for your grief, and congratulations for your achievements. Surround yourself with people who understand that. Please continue to persevere, practice self-care, and help others when you are able.

Red-shanked Grasshopper, Xanthippus corallipes, ready to jump into 2021 (from Colorado Springs, Colorado, on May 30, 2020).