Thursday, August 6, 2009

How much wood would a botanist log if a botanist would log wood?

I am no botanist. But I am a logger, a data logger. For a few years I have spent a few days/weeks in the Herbarium doing general herbaria chores. Initially I went so I could learn the proper way to collect & record botanical specimens. In return for this training, I was also taught how to mount these specimens & then I was let loose on a decades-old pile of specimens improperly documented that now makes up a good portion of the local synoptic collection.

As I was working my way through the pile, I learned that there was no one, No One in a position to enter this information into a database, thereby making the synoptic collection more available. My new career was born.

More recently I have undertaken the digital recording of the existing wood collections (yes, plural) that have been merged and carefully cross-referenced....on index cards.

Last semester I finished the Acanthaceae. They made up about an inch & a half of index cards. I have now been working on the Anacardiaceae for what seems like a lifetime. I have recently arrived at poison ivy. Guess what still has toxic oils even after 60+ years in a cabinet? At five to nine months or so a drawer, I am looking at job security for the next several years. If only they were paying me, but you cannot have everything.

I have talked with a few friends who used to have paid work & now have no work but eschew volunteer work & I admit it leaves me stumped. How can it possible be better (for your resume, for your psyche, I would say for your self esteem except I do not actually believe in self esteem as defined by our culture), how can it possible be better to just wait; maybe you could reconsider? Why not do something while you are waiting? & you never know, you might meet your future employer while volunteering.- your volunteer job might become paid. This happened to one of the herbarium volunteers & could have happened to me but I would rather...set my own schedule. Yeah, that's it.

Sooooo if you have been not getting in touch with your local volunteer center because: you need to be available (if only cell phones had been invented), you do not want to make a commitment you cannot keep (no one ever heard of a temporary volunteer job), you want to use this time to catch up on things around the house (it can take weeks to dust behind the fridge; it takes me years), please take some of your busy, full day & think about doing something that does not remind you of what you are not doing.

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