What To Expect When You're Married To A Birder

Having been married to a non birder for a long time, we've had to negotiate certain things. You will find yourself having strange arguments and in hindsight, funny misunderstandings. Here's a video example that Non Birding Bill and I made that anyone considering marring a birder who is a non birder may want to check out.  This will give you an idea of to expect throughout that relationship (also you get to actually see NBB in this video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJ-NDqxVmZI

And yes...Swarovski scopes (and binoculars) are THAT waterproof.  After they are particularly dirty, I do shower with them.


You're Making That Up

You're Making That Up  

Some of you may be aware that Non Birding Bill has been developing a radio game show of sorts with Mr. Neil and hosting preview performances. The previews are to iron out the script kinks and if all goes well, it will eventually be on air. Even though I am married to one of the co-creators of this cool project, I frequently do not know when the preview performances are until the very last minute and they sell out quickly.  Above is from the first preview performance and had Bill Corbett, John Hodgman, John Moe, Neil Gaiman (yes, Mr. Neil) and Kevin Murphy.  I can't help but look at that photo with quite a bit of pride and think, "Yeah, I know one of the guys who put that together and cowrote the script."

Bill Stiteler

That's my boy surrounded by the cast--note the relieved look on his face immediately after the first performance that was met with a very warm audience reception!

Part of the reason for the last minute nature of the preview is that everyone has crazy schedules and well, if you are the producer in the Twin Cities, you know how challenging it can be to find a theater space ahead of time, much less on short notice. Which is one of the reasons I haven't brought it up on the blog.

Long story short, there's a preview performance next week, February 7, 2013 at 8pm at the Brave New Workshop.  This one will have Neil Gaiman, John Moe, Joseph Scrimshaw (yeah, the dude who had me on his podcast Obsessed and argued about my lack of obsession with birds and his having me on again with an etymologist to talk about my supposed obsession with swearing), Mike Fotis...and me (sometimes having a last minute show means you might be suddenly short a guest and it's handy to have a wife who can bs well).

What is this show about? Have you ever watched QI? It's kind of like that.  John Moe asks questions and we have to make up an answer.  It's funny and weird. So, if you see this in time and you are in the Twin Cities area and you have $12, order tickets at the Brave New Workshop Student Union ASAP. And note that it's the Student Union, don't want to end up at the wrong venue on game night!


Metaphor For Marriage?

Below is a relative approximation of me getting out of bed to go birding while Non Birding Bill is still sleeping.  I'm the gentoo penguin and bill would be the seal: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdPGXClOE5g&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

Geek a Week Announcement

Hello all, NBB here. The eagle-eyed among you might have noticed that earlier this month we changed the blog's tag line, removing "To show the world you can be a birder without being a geek."

Why did we change it? Because today, Sharon officially joins one of the nerdiest herds around, the Geek A Week project!

sharon's geek a week card

Illustrator Len Peralta started this project to create one trading card a week, for a year, of an über-nerdy subject, along with an interview/podcast. In addition to the card front (above), you can view card back (with text by Paul of Paul and Storm, download the podcast, and read Len's write up about Sharon.

Congrats, sweetie! I'm so proud of my little geek!

The Penguin's Fowl Play

Hello all, NBB here. Sharon's off to give a presentation in Missouri, so she's asked me to entertain you for the evening. So, I present to you The Penguin's Fowl Play!

It's a Batman adventure (courtesy of the Gone and Forgotten blog, which brings us vintage comic book insanity). In it, the Penguin comes up with a plot to rob a camera plan of its silver (and why not?) using, of course, birds. He does this, naturally by convincing a bird expert to create a "Bird Encyclopedia" using pictures of his rare avian friends (which he has on hand).

Little background: this actually happened. I don't want to mention any names, but why do you think a certain Mr. Sibley decided to use paintings in his field guide???

Click to enlarge

And in addition to being a thrilling adventure of the Dynamic Duo, it also educates, as well as entertains!

Click to enlarge

Drunk bees!

Hello all, NBB here. Yesterday was a pretty shining example of why, three (?) years into this process, I'm still the junior beekeeping assistant, the Barney Fife of the apiary world.

To get everyone up to speed: the bees needed to be fed, Sharon has to work, Neil is out of town, Hans is out of town, and Lorraine is sick as a dog. Which left me. Now, the last time I was sent off alone to check on the bees it was a comedy of errors, if by "comedy" you mean "it's funny because it happened to someone else."

This mission, however, was a simple one: feed the bees. I didn't have to switch boxes, combine any hives, or search for the queen. Just feed the bees by mixing sugar and water in a pail, then add the pail to the hive. A job so simple, an idiot could do it.

Which is why they sent me.

It was a cold day, about 44°, which meant the hives would be less active, they tend to stay inside and cluster for warmth. I got there in plenty of time, figuring to take about an hour to make the sugar water solution. Small problem:


The sugar, having been left in the garage all summer, was not so much as “easy pour” as more of a “solid brick.” After chipping away at the bags, I was able to produce several manageable chunks and also a large mess. So after about an hour I had five pails full of sugar water.

Too bad we have six beehives. Sigh... what can I say? Math is hard! Back to the house to make another pail, then back down to the hives.

Amazing, the bees were still alive by the time I got to them.


We didn’t get as much honey as we were expecting this year. I wonder if the wetness of the season had something to do with this, or the fact that we had eight hives competing for pollen rather than two.

Regardless, the remaining hives seemed full. And thirsty...



For reasons that escape me now, I had to reopen one of the hives after I put the pail on. I noticed one of the bees had gotten splashed with the sugar water, making her the most popular girl at the dance.


Her wings were sparkling.

We’re heading towards the end of bee season. Soon we’ll be taking the hives down to two or three brood boxes (filled with honey, which the bees will eat over the winter). We’ll wrap the hives in insulation, put the entrance reducers on (to keep out mice and other pests that would make a honey-filled box a winter home), and that’ll be that. We’ll sneak down in the winter and press our ears to the side to make sure they’re alive, dreaming whatever winter dreams bees have.

Coming Attractions

(Not really!) While playing around with MoType, a titles plugin, I whipped this up to amuse Sharon: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9cS1_0D83g[/youtube]

The music is from World of Goo, a fantastically fun game which you should totally buy, I think.

Weird Adventures I Have Because Of Birding

Last time I was on Showcase Minnesota I was talking with the producer about when I would do my next segment. I used to have a regular segment on Mondays, but that was when I worked at the bird store and could only do Mondays. I also didn't travel as much as I do now, so we just play it by ear. I asked the producer if she was going to have any cool guests and told her to just put me on that day. She said, "Well, we have George Takei on February 1, but we're already booked up that day."

As it happened, I left my binocular harness at the station during my last segment and decided February 1 would be the perfect day to pick it up before the bird trip this weekend. The producer said it was okay for me to come and try and meet Mr. Takei. And since I'm a familiar face around the station, I can come and go unescorted. It was funny because I totally confused the crew while I was sitting in the waiting area, "Are we supposed to be doing calls today? I didn't see birds on the sheet!" I joked that I was just at the station really early for Monday.

Non Birding Bill had today and Monday off from work, so he came with me. After Mr. Takei did his Showcase Minnesota segment, he filmed an interview for Tim McNiff's 11 Questions. Tim has always been really nice to me on the station and he let us watch. Above, NBB is standing standing in the studio while Mr. Takei is being interviewed. I have to say, it was a great interview, he has a great sense of humor and outlook at being an original cast member of Star Trek, not to mention all his work with human rights and his political activism. He's just nice and has an incredible outlook on life.

Afterwards, Mr. Takei (can you tell that I just don't feel comfortable calling him George?) was really nice and posed for a photo with us. What a class act and gracious man. Thank you, Mr. Takei for putting up with us. Incidentally, he's in town with the Minnesota Orchestra narrating To Boldly Go--music used in sci fi movies. He said part of the fun is that some people come to this dressed in full Klingon or other Star Trek costumes. Should be a fun addition to the usual symphony crowd.

I got a kick out of Rob Hudson, one of the hosts on Showcase Minnesota--he's got a strong Minnesota accent and he was explaining Uff Da to Mr. Takei. "It's like, 'I'm outta potato lefse? Uff Da!' Just think of it as a milder version of Oy Vey!" It reminded me of a moment you would see in a Christopher Guest movie.