Bird Banding Selfies

Bird Banders in the News Again!

20140728_091412-3 (Copy)

We caught a kingfisher! And I got to hold it! This is serious stuff. Hence the serious expression on my face.

Last week we had a group from the Martin Meylin Middle School (which is located somewhere in Pennsylvania) visit the banding station. They were such a great group! They were very engaged, and asked great questions. Continue reading

TSS on Wyoming Public Radio

A few weeks ago we had a reporter and photographer from Wyoming Public Radio come out to visit our banding station. They were gathering material for a few different pieces, both about bird banding and also about Teton Science Schools education programs. There might be something more about banding coming out in the future, but for now here’s a radio segment they did about one of the summer camps. You can listen to (or read) the radio segment here: Continue reading

Hiking Up Sleeping Indian

A few weekends ago I hiked up Sheep Mountain, more commonly known as Sleeping Indian. I’ve never heard anyone call it Sheep Mountain, actually. According to Wikipedia, Sleeping Indian is 11, 239 feet above sea level, and is located in the state of Wyoming. It is in the Gros Ventre Range, which is in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, which is the 3rd largest national forest outside of Alaska, which I think is cool. Continue reading

A Hike to Taggart Lake

On Sunday last week I decided to go for a short hike.

First though, I slept in til 8 a.m. (that’s super late for a bird bander, we normally wake up around 4 a.m.), then spent a leisurely morning over my coffee and Annie Proulx’s book Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2.

Annie Proulx


“They made a trip out to scout around. Mitchell was stunned by the beauty of the place, not the overphotographed jagsof  the Grand Tetons but the high prairie and the luminous yellow distance, which peased his sense of spatial arrangement. He felt as though he had stumbled into a landscape never before seen on the earth and at the same time that h had been transported to the ur-landscape before human beginnings. The mountains crouched at every horizon like dark sleeping animals, their backs whitened by snow. He trod on wildflowers, glistening quartz crystals, on agate and jade, brilliant lichens. The unfamiliar grasses vibrated with light, their incandescent stalks lighting the huge ground. Distance reduced a herd of cattle to a handful of tossed cloves. HIs heart squeezed in, and he wished for a celestial eraser to remove the fences, the crude houses, the one he bought included, from this place. Even the sinewy, braided currents of the wind, which made Eugenie irritable, pleased him.”


Man Crawling Out of Trees, in Bad Dirt by Annie Proulx

 (I apologize for the massive paragraph, but that’s how it was written in the book.)


After my coffee and reading, I headed out to Grand Teton National Park and the Taggart Lake Trailhead.


At first, the trail looked like this:


Grand Teton National Park Taggart Lake trail

Blue skies, sunny warm day, trail meandering through the aspens along a babbling stream, birds singing… eh, I guess it was okay.


I wore my usual hiking shoes:


Wyoming Grand Teton National Park

My trusty orange Crocs haven’t failed me yet!


I saw some flowers:


Grand Teton National Park Wyoming


Then, the trail looked like this:


Grand Teton National Park Wyoming


And then I was there:


Grand Teton National Park Wyoming


Taggart Lake Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Taggart Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.


It was such a nice day, I decided to hike on the mile and a half to Bradley Lake.

On the way, I saw a pine cone and some moss:


Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

I might have taken a number of moss/pine cone pictures. I also might have taken a number of fungi pictures, but unfortunately they didn’t end up looking nearly as cool on my computer as they did in real life. So if anyone wants a bad picture of a cool fungi on a tree, let me know. 


And I saw another pretty flower:


Grand Teton National Park Wyoming


However, after a short while the trail started to look like this:


Grand Teton National Park Wyoming


Good thing I wore my postholing Crocs:


Grand Teton National Park Wyoming Crocs


The view through the trees of Bradley Lake looked like this:

Wyoming Grand Teton National Park


I wasn’t that impressed, and the trail was knee-deep in snow in some places, so I turned around.

And then I saw a marmot:


Grand Teton National Park marmot

I actually almost stepped on the marmot, who was about 2 inches off the trail. He/she/it was not at all concerned.


After the marmot excitement, I braved my way back through the snow to Taggart Lake, where I could kick back, snack on some carrots, and take in the view.


Grand Teton National Park Wyoming


It was a pretty good day.


Jackson Wyoming

To commemorate the day, I took a selfie in front of this giant log. Definitely wasn’t trying to get the mountains in the background. Because who wants a picture in front of the Tetons when you can take your picture with this awesome log?



A Few Things That Make Me Happy

A Few Things That Make Me Happy

A List In No Particular Order


Anhinga, Everglades Natoinal Park, Florida

Anhingas also make me happy. Because they’re awesome. I mean, come on. Look at that eye makeup and hairdo.  Red eye, blue eye-liner, green eyeshadow, artfully disarrayed frosted spikes. Hotness. 
Everglades National Park, Florida



  • savoring a cup of tea while wrapped in a blanket in front of the woodstove.

cape breton highlands national park

Or savoring a cup of tea while sitting on a rocky beach in Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia, because you don’t have any pictures of leisurely tea drinking by the woodstove.

  • waking, realizing there is no real reason to be up yet, and staying in bed, eyes closed, half awake/half asleep, dreaming.

Memorial Day in the Mountains

Camping up on Black Balsam, in Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina.

  • the smell of walking through a pine forest in the cool  just after dawn.

H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest Oregon

H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Oregon. I took this in May 2010. If I recall correctly, it rained pretty much the entire three months I was in Oregon.

  • the sound of woodpeckers tapping and hammering on branches.

red-cockaded woodpecker Carolina Sandhills NWR

Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Carolina Sandhills NWR, South Carolina. I spent a great deal of time chasing them around in the woods. It was fun. Other than the chiggers and the poison oak.

  • getting sucked into a good book for hours, and only coming up for air when you desperately have to pee. Or eat.

Galapagos Islands lava gull

This has nothing to do with reading a good book, but surprisingly I don’t have any pictures of me reading. So here’s a picture I took of a Lava Gull and chick in the Galapagos Islands back in 2008. The adult is in breeding plumage, which is why it has the red eye-ring. And, it’s eye is closed. It’s napping. Parenting is exhausting, from what I hear.

  • having progressively logically ridiculous conversations, that are in turns creative, silly, and in a strange way logical.

Like planning our post-apocalyptic commune, or our skunk ape/NASA/unicorn conspiracy theory, or pretty much any time Meghan, Patrick, and I opened our mouths.


Dave Shealy's Gorilla Supplier

Skunk Ape Research Headquarters, Ochopee, Florida. Based on the drawings (which are based on a first-person description from someone who wasn’t the artist) in the “Skunk Ape Research Handbook,” that is totally a gorilla statue, not a skunk ape.

  • the smell of a rock wall, on the 2nd or 3rd pitch of a multi-pitch route.


Rock Climbing Utah

Climbing Castleton Tower with Max. I recommend climbing desert towers with someone who doesn’t say, “You know, if this tower fell over we’d be screwed” as you reach the belay on the 3rd  of 4 pitches. Near Moab, Utah.

  • singing along as loud as I please to a good song on the radio.

everglades national park, florida

Thankfully I have no pictures of myself singing, so here’s another cool bird picture (you can never have too many). This is a Purple Gallinule, a sweet bird that lives in Florida. They live other places too, but this one lives in Everglades National Park. Well, that’s where I saw it. Maybe it was just on vacation.

  • snuggling with my dog in my tiny bed

I prefer blonds in my bed

Extra happiness: snuggling with both a dog and a cat. All those blond pet hairs covering your person and clothing are just pet love stuck all over everything in your life.

  • riding my mountain bike down Game Creek trail, where I discovered one of the meanings of the world “exultation.”

Jackson Wyoming

One of the many beaver ponds along the trail. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming.

And here’s a video of what is probably a Ruffed Grouse on Game Creek. It’s a good thing I ride slow, otherwise I might have run it over. These birds could definitely use some street-smarts.

Look both ways before you cross RUGR!

Kids (and Grownups) Say the Darndest Things

I spent last summer in Wyoming, where I was working with the Teton Science Schools to band birds. I won’t go into too much about what that entailed, but see Bird Banding With the Teton Science Schools; What Is A Mist Net?; How To Catch A Bird in A Mist Net; and Feathered Friday Article for more details.

Sometimes we would have visitors to our banding stations, educational groups made up of school-aged children and/or adults. It was great fun, sharing all the birds we caught with them, and hopefully passing on some of the passion that we all have for nature and birds. I’m going back again this May, and am very much looking forward to it. Songbirds and the Tetons, what more could one possibly want in a summer?


Sometimes people say some, shall we say, interesting things.

I’d written down some of these gems, and then forgotten about them. To stumble upon them now brings back all sorts of wonderful memories of summer in the Tetons. I can’t say I dislike winter in Colorado, but it’s not quite the same. There’s a little more snow, for one. And it’s slightly colder. Like, I don’t know, maybe by 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit or so (my car told me it was negative 9 here in Boulder last week when I got up to go climbing at 6 a.m. Yeah, I’m not sure why I thought that was a good idea either. At least it was inside. Climbing and birds are two of the only things I’m willing to wake up that early for). Though the snow did stick around up in the mountains fairly late into the summer last year.

The Flatirons are awesome, but it’s hard to beat the Tetons. I mean, come on. They’re the Tetons.

Jackson Wyoming

My first view of the Tetons last May.

People Say the Darndest Things:

Bird Banding Edition

  • The kid who kept insisting that they were “Warbling Videos” and “Cheddar Waxwings.”

I said, it’s “Vir-e-o,” there’s no ‘d,’ and “Ce-dar,” like the tree, not “Ched-dar” like the cheese. He insisted I was wrong. First time it was cute. Second, third, fourth, etc. times, not so much. He just would not let it go, and wasn’t willing to be corrected.

Jackson Wyoming Teton Science School

Cheddar Waxwing… or a Cedar Waxwing. Whichever you prefer.

Yeah, okay kid. You’re right, I probably don’t know what I’m talking about, and probably can’t read properly either. It’s not like I majored in both zoology and English or anything.

Warbling Vireo_565x461

A Warbling Video (not a Warbling Vireo, as the rest of the ornithological community seems to think).

  • “Look, I can make your scale say Error!”

Definitely one of the worst things to hear someone say about your research equipment. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this was a little boy. We quickly went over (again) the no-touching policy. Again.

And then I said, in that fake-happy tone you quickly learn when working with children,  “Go look at the bird that Sarah has!” (translation: Get Away From My Equipment You Little Cretin).

bird banding scales and weigh tubes

One of the scales and a set of weighing tubes. We stick the birds, head down, in the tubes to weigh them. It’s pretty funny looking. Turns out though that I don’t have any good pictures. Sorry.

  • “So what is there to do around here other than climb and stuff?”

This was a question from a high school student (also male) visiting from Miami, Florida.

I responded to that one with a blank look.

I don’t understand the question. You’re in the Tetons. What else could you possibly want to do?

rock climbing jackson wyoming hoback shield

Bo crushing at Hoback Shield.

  • “Do birds get periods?”

This question came from one of the adult chaperones, because she noticed the rather red stains on some of the bird bags I was holding. A bit of explanation: After we remove the birds from the mist net, we place them in small cotton drawstring bags and securely close them in order to transport the birds safely to the banding station. This keeps the birds from hurting themselves, and from stressing out too much as we carry them back for processing.

The stains were in fact poop stains, because we had been catching a number of American Robins and Gray Catbirds that had been dining on organic locally fresh berries, and when birds get freaked out (as happens when they suddenly and unexplainedly find themselves caught in a mist net) they tend to void their bowels, either in our hands, or in the bags, or all over our log books, or any combination of those places. Or, if you’re extremely unfortunate, in a projectile way all over your face/in your eyes/mouth. Poor Sarah. I’ve never had bird poop in my eye, but I imagine it wouldn’t feel very good. Or be fun to clean off contacts.

Yes, it’s kinda gross, but you get used to being pooped on. Bird bags make excellent poop-wiping hankies, in case you were wondering. I can personally attest that whatever those berries are, they make an excellent dye, both on clothes and skin.

So no, birds don’t get periods. That’s a mammal thing, and birds, as you (hopefully) know, are not mammals. Those red stains are poop, not blood. Also, those stains are huge, and if a bird lost that much blood during the few minutes it was in the bird bag it’d probably be in trouble and I sure as heck wouldn’t be this nonchalant about it.

We take bird safety very seriously, and if there’s so much as a speck of blood on a bird, we notice and do what we can to stop the bleeding before releasing the bird. However, injuries are very rare, and less than 1% of all the birds we capture in our nets are injured. There have been a number of studies about bird safety, and if you want to read one of them there’s a link on my post What is a mist net?

bird banding Teton Science Schools

Bird bags. These have been freshly laundered, but note the permanent poop stains on the bottoms. After a while, bird poo just doesn’t come out in the laundry anymore.

  • “So who can tell me what this bird is?”

“Oooo, I know, I know, it’s a House Wren!”

“Um… actually, wrens are a little bit smaller, and they’re all brown and kind of mottled looking. This one has a few different colors. It’s actually an American Robin.”

This was an older woman, who was really excited to be out banding with us (she was practically bouncing up and down with excitement). I was worried that she would feel bad that I had to correct her, so I tried to be very nice about it. She didn’t mind at all, because she was just so thrilled to be out with us seeing the birds. It was sweet, and her energy was infectious. I loved having people out to the banding stations who were this excited about everything. Though I tend to be pretty even-keeled, this is how I feel about just about every bird I handle– jump-up-and-down-excited. I just hide it well. That, and it would startle the birds, so I reign it in.

In case you were wondering:

American Robins weigh about 77-85 grams, and are usually 7.9-11 inches long, with a wingspan of 12.2-15.7 inches. House Wrens weigh 10-12 grams, are usually 4.3-5.1 inches long, with a wingspan of 5.9 inches. There’s a bit of a size difference there…

Hatch Year American Robin Jackson WY_461x615

Hatch Year (aka baby) American Robin. Note the size in relation to my hand. However, this bird is the same size as a full-grown Robin. Once they fledge, or leave the nest, they are fully grown, and won’t get any bigger. They’ll just grown in different feathers.

Jackson Wyoming Teton Science School bird banding

A not-very-good picture of a House Wren. Again, note the size of the bird in relation to the hand (this time, it’s not my hand, because it would be quite a feat to take a picture with both of my hands occupied by bird).

  • “I’ll bet this metal pole will float.”

That gem is from my brother, while helping me take down nets after banding and apparently contemplating throwing one of the poles in the river. He’s got quite a number of these profound comments, which you can see if you follow the link above.

My dad says, “Yeah Eric, I’ll bet they would.”

My mom says, “Don’t encourage him!” to my dad.

I said, “Eric, if you throw that pole in the river you have to go fish it out, and then explain to Keegan (the crew lead) why the poles are all wet.”

spreading the net_461x615

Spreading the mist net out on the pole. See my blog post What Is A Mist Net? for more info.

And one more:

  • “I’ll bet you can’t carry all 20 mist net poles up to the van.”

Said Sarah, the banding educator, to Keegan, the crew lead, because it was the last day of banding and she didn’t want to carry any of the poles.

To which he replied, “I’ll bet I can.”

And he did.

Up from the riparian area down by Blacktail Ponds Overlook, which involves wading through a few streams and then climbing up a pretty steep, though short, embankment to the parking lot. From the banding site to the parking lot is maybe a 10 or 15 minute walk, through uneven terrain, carrying a heavy load of banding equipment in backpacks and these awkward poles.

I found this video someone took of the overlook (see link below). We had nets set in the first clump of willows you see on the right, and then in the willows to the left of the giant open area. Basically, we were scattered around between the camera viewpoint and the pines along the river. Not real sure why the video is 4 minutes long, but if you just watch the first minute or so you can get a good idea of what Blacktail Ponds looks like.

Tetons from the Blacktail Ponds Overlook video

Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Watch out for the moose!

Mist net poles are metal electrical conduit pipes, which can be bought at Lowes or Home Depot (which I have done). They are 10 feet long, and not particularly heavy if you have only one or two, but they quickly start to hurt the shoulder after walking any sort of distance. My limit is 10, which I can only carry for a max of 15/20 minutes before I have to take a break (after which I have no desire to resume carrying said poles).

Also, it’s not at all easy to keep them all together if you have any more than 10: they start to go all over the place, like giant Pick-Up-Sticks. There’s a reason Pick-Up-Sticks aren’t 10 feet long and made out of metal.

After he successfully carried all the poles up to the van (and proved, definitively, that he is much more of a man than Sarah, Bo, or myself– who are all female), we stopped at Dairy Queen and bought him a Blizzard. It should be noted though that he did this before he knew we were going to buy his Blizzard, from which I have learned that if you start any request with the phrase “I’ll bet you can’t [task you don’t want to complete]” you can probably get a guy to do it for you.

Anyone who wants to be my designated pole-carryer this summer, I’ll pay you in Blizzards.

The King of Drama hiking in Death Canyon.

I’m guessing Eric isn’t going to be volunteering to carry my mist net poles any time soon. Especially considering that this picture was taken about a mile up the trail.

26 Things I’ve Learned in My 26 Years

Here is the world.

Beautiful and terrible things will happen.

Don’t be afraid.

— Frederick Buechner

Canyonlands National Park Utah

Canyonlands, Utah

1. Not everything in life has to be hard.

Sometimes the easy path is the one you’re supposed to go down. Sometimes it’s the universe showing you where you’re supposed to go.

lily in sunlight


2. If you throw the candy wrappers away in the trash, Mom will never find them.

If you stuff them in the couch she will find them and you will get in trouble.


imageswhisper-words-of-wisdom_615x454 3. Let it be.

As in, the microwave/car/laptop/whathaveyou that is malfunctioning will probably start working properly again if you let it alone for a spell. Granted, this doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does. I have in fact “fixed” a microwave and a few car problems this way.


4. A sense of humor will take you far in the world.

I honestly don’t know how you’d get by without one. Life is ridiculous, there’s no getting around that. So just enjoy it. Laugh and be merry.

winter camping Wyoming

5. Go camping.

If you want to get to know someone really well, go camping with them. Hopefully you realize that they’re awesome, ‘cause if not it’s going to be a looong weekend.

Fundy National Park New Brunswick Canada

Fundy National Park, New Brunswick

6. Travel.

Traveling is imperative for any well-rounded individual. Even if you can’t physically travel to far-off lands, mental travel can be enough. Read a book, or watch a documentary/movie that transports you somewhere else and teaches you something about other people and the world around you. The world is a large place, but not as big as it seems. The people living on the other side of it are just like us. It is not as scary as you think out there. GO!

blue springs state park florida

Another travel perk: hugging manatees.

7. A good book is always worth its weight in your checked bag.

These are your reserve books for the travels home, because of course you will have finished the books in your carry-on bag. You should have a book to read on your person at all times.

8. It’s better not to tell Mom what you did until after you make it back safely.

Or ever. This includes skydiving, almost getting arrested in Washington DC for sleeping in your car, and picking up hitchhikers in foreign countries. Especially that last one.

skydiving Ohio

9. If you make cookies, they will be eaten.

Especially if you live in a bunkhouse with other field biologists. And especially if they are male.

10. If you simply expect things to work out, they probably will.

The world does not have it against you. It might not happen exactly how you planned, but it will work out in some fashion.

Adopt a kitten, get some sweet corn!

11. Going for a walk is an excellent way to generate thoughts.

galapagos islands

12. There are many people in this world who do not know how to put toilet paper on the holder.

Perhaps they purposely didn’t change out the empty roll because they wanted you to have the joy of doing so.

change toilet paper brain damage sign

13. Not speaking does not mean not caring.

Or not being intelligent. Sometimes we just can’t speak, or don’t know what to say.

Blue Ridge Parkway North Carolina

Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

14. Just because that’s how it’s been for a long time doesn’t mean that’s how it’s supposed to be forever.

15. My family will always be odder than yours.

Therefore, there is very little you can do to weird me out.

Lauren and Grandad with hats

16. It is very hard for me to be happy if I can’t go outside every day.

Sunshine, trees, fresh air, blue skies, and some mountains would be preferable. That’s all I need. And some birds.

Nepal Annapurna

17. Sometimes you just want to do nothing.

And that’s okay. You don’t have to be working on something all the time. It’s okay to take a break every once in awhile and just breathe.

Teton Science School Wilson Campus bunkhouse

18. Though sometimes you might think otherwise, it’s probably better that you didn’t actually say what was on your mind.

Stupid can’t be taken back, and neither can unkind words (no matter how deserved they are).

Darn it, if only my parents hadn’t raised me to be such a polite and respectful person…

Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

19. Climbing up a mountain on your own steam is a powerful feeling.

The view is always better when you work for it.

trekking Mt. Kinabalu Malaysia

It is not always advisable to wear Teva sandals and socks to climb mountains. But I find them to be excellent hiking foot attire.

20. Be excited about something every day.

I learned this one from my dog, who, for all of his 14 years, was excited to the point of backflips for his food. I’m not sure I’ve ever been that excited about food, and, thinking about it, I’m not sure why not. Food is exciting stuff. Life is exciting stuff. So get excited about it, and don’t bother with what other people think.

food truck moab utah

21. You can’t outrun your past. Or a charging moose.

And of the two, I can personally attest that the charging moose is much more terrifying.

Fundy National Park New Brunswick Canada

22. Birds are cool.

Like really cool. For instance, migration. Ruby-throated hummingbirds fly non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico. RTHUs weigh 2-6 grams (0.1-0.2 oz) and are 7-9 cm (2.8-3.5 inches) long. At elevations of 2,000 to 5,000 feet, in 11-18 hours, the tiny birds fly 600 miles over the Gulf. Woah.


23. Send postcards.

Everyone loves to get mail. I mean really, is anyone going to say “Don’t send me any more mail, I don’t like getting a little personalized note that lets me know you’re thinking about me”? No.

24. People leave their brains at home when they go on vacation.

On that note, the middle of the road on a blind curve is not a good place to stop to take a picture when there is traffic coming from both directions.

Also, when the sign on the visitor center says “Hours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.” that doesn’t mean we employees want to sit here another half hour while you use the bathroom, ask detailed questions about the refuge, and browse the gift shop. But by all means, go right ahead. I get the equivalent of 87 cents an hour for this internship, and no, I have absolutely nothing better to do with my time right now. I really don’t want to go home and eat dinner or anything like that.

south carolina hiking

25. Make music.

Sing. Play an instrument. Music is the language of the soul. And it just feels good.

Especially when it involves boomwackers and Call Me Maybe.

26. Love like sunshine.

Love should warm you, brighten up your day, help you to see things you didn’t before. It should be everywhere, illuminating everything.


Also, I wanted to mention that I have learned a great deal of other things in my 26 years, this is only a sampling. Just wanted to clarify.

The Cuteness Scale: A Poll

The Cuteness Scale: Bird Edition

Mostly just for fun, and because I wanted an excuse to go through all my cool bird pictures, I made this poll. Please take it, and rank the following 15 birds on their level of cuteness. This is a highly-scientific research study, in case you were wondering. I even have funding from the NSF– the National Smith Foundation, which provides itinerant Smith children with food and shelter while they are in-between field jobs. The only requirement is that you are a biological child of Mike and Vicki Smith, so luckily I don’t have much competition for funding.

This is just the first edition of this poll, I feel like improvements can, and probably shall, be made. I think it would be really fun to do a cute baby bird one next, but I’ll have to go on a picture-gathering mission first. Or just do a few more field jobs.

For more information on the birds included in this poll, check out these links: 

Black-capped Chickadee

Yellow Warbler

Red-eyed Vireo

Black Vulture

Brown Creeper


Blue-footed Booby

Florida Scrub-Jay

Cooper’s Hawk

Waved Albatross

Mourning Dove

Wilson’s Snipe

Red-naped Sapsucker

Common Raven

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Thanks for taking my poll!

Hope you had fun! I know I did.

Things My Brother Says

In honor of my little brother’s birthday yesterday (22, you’re making me feel old here Eric!), here are of some of his more recent quotes– as in, these are the only ones I can remember off the top of my head. I could write a pretty good series of Things Eric Says, and I’m fairly certain one of these days that will probably happen. So perhaps consider this a preview of epic works to come. They say that as a writer you should mine your family life for material. Pretty sure I’m set for writing material for the rest of my life. For a kid with selective mutism he sure has a lot to say when no one else is around, and most of it is hilarious.

Selective mutism is defined (by Wikipedia) as “… a psychiatric disorder in which a person who is normally capable of speech is unable to speak in given situations or to specific people. …. Children and adults with selective mutism are fully capable of speech and understanding language but fail to speak in certain situations, though speech is expected of them. The behaviour may be perceived as shyness or rudeness by others. A child with selective mutism may be completely silent at school for years but speak quite freely or even excessively at home.” This describes Eric to a T. It can be a challenge, but hey, we’ve all got our issues. Some are just more obvious than others. I’m sure some of his teachers, who I don’t think he ever spoke to during his 4 years of high school, would be astounded at at the Chatty Cathy he turns into as soon as he gets home. One never knows exactly what will emit from his vocal cords, so it’s never boring (see below).


Things My Brother Says


  • “I’ll bet this metal pole would float.”


The King of Drama hiking in Death Canyon.

The King of Drama after a mile or two of hiking in Death Canyon.



Dad: “Are you in shape yet?”
Eric: “No.”
Dad: “Well then we better keep biking until you are.”







  • “Don’t make me turn on my synthetic lightning.”


Bison at Yellowstone

Bison in Yellowstone National Park, July 2013, just chillin’ like a villin.



Mom: “The bison like those dry spots to hang out in.”

Eric: “They should try my lips, they’re pretty dry.”





  • “Look at that wad of goats over there.”


  • After farting in the kitchen directly in front of me, just before leaving the room: “Here’s your gift of Christmas stench.”


  • As we approach a waterfall on a hike: “I hear the pitter-patter of falling water. Or 100 mountain goats peeing at the same time.”
Castle Geyser, Yellowstone National Park.

Castle Geyser, Yellowstone National Park.

  • “I think my ass geyser just exploded.”


Happy Birthday Eric! You’re the best little brother I’ve ever had, and I can’t imagine how boringly-normal my life would be without you. You are one of the most righteous dudes I’ve ever met, and I’m so proud of you.

Rock on, bro.