Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A little latin at work.

So I've finally been able to save a few bucks and get some more of these names inked. I promised a whole lot of people I'd do it and I was feeling a little like I was punking out. Not so much now. Besides the money, there's another thing that's hard to come by for me. Time. Ya, time. Everybody is busy I know but with work as crazy as it is, family stuff and now living in the country (read: commute time), it really makes it tough to find a few hours to sit and get tattooed. Then, I had this idea. I'm sitting at my desk at work a lot. All. Day. Long. What better place to get inked than there? I asked my bosses if that was going to be ok. Now if you asked to be able to get a tattoo at work, most bosses would likely look at you as if you had three heads. Not mine. They're so extremely supportive of this whole project. They said they'd be disappointed if I didn't get inked at work. So there you have it. Yesterday was my birthday. And my gift to this film and everyone following it is follow-through on my promise.

I sat at my desk and worked away while my buddy Pete sat behind me permanently listing the birds I saw in 2011 on my back. I loved his idea for the location of the tattoo yesterday. When we are done, there'll be two long columns of names down my back. The ones on the left are flush right and the ones on the right will be flush left, leaving my spine as the gutter between the two columns of type. This won't be enough room for all the names but it'll be about 60 of them. Then we will just move on to another body part not already covered in ink.

A lot of people have been asking me question of various types regarding the ink, the big year, the choice between common and Latin names. Instead of answering these questions randomly and not having any record of them, I was thinking of having a video/text FAQ on this blog. So please, ask me anything. Anything at all and I'll answer you while I'm getting tattooed and post it here for everyone. Share this notion with everyone you know. I'm happy to answer any questions you guys might have. Send your questions to punkrockbigyear AT gmail DOT com.

Instagrams by Rob Sturch (my writer).

Note: For all you serious birders out there, I already know about the error. The way I see it, this project isn't just about names, it's about showing a younger/wider audience that birdwatching and birdwatchers aren't what they might have thought. Also, with 234 names, there's bound to be some errors.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Two lifers and a bank job

Last week was really off the charts. Work had sent me to the west for a week. Though I always miss my family very much it’s always nice to head to the land of western birds on someone else’s dime. Turned out things got a little crazy while i was there. Not only with work but with birds. Basically, it was akin to wining to lotteries back to back.

Bird one.
Brambling. An online friend, John Puschock, that handles the ABA rare bird alert Facebook page found out I’d be in Vancouver and told me about a Brambling that was right in the middle of South Vancouver. This I learned just prior to heading west so I was excited to get to see this bird. It was of course a lifer for me. I arrived Saturday evening, got settled in a hotel that quite frankly is way above my station. That’s how it goes when I travel for work. I sleep in building that normally would see me shot as I approach the front door. I had some dinner with a good friend that lives in Van. and went to bed as early as I could. With the time change I was asleep by 2am Toronto time. I woke at 4am Vancouver time and struggled to get more sleep. By 7 am there was no more fighting it. The combination of the time change and the excitement of seeing a lifer took over. I got up, ate fast and headed to the spot. After about ten minutes of wandering, I saw the bird. It was great. Showing very nicely even to the naked eye. A few more birders came along but more about them later.

Brambling by Richard Towell.

Bank robbery.
I was there to shoot a couple commercials for a client. I’ll post them as soon as I am allowed but I can say that we filmed a couple dudes doing a rather poor job of robbing a bank. That was fun as I’ve never robbed a bank before. Well, actually the robbing of the bank happens just prior to us finding our characters. The subsequent police chase is what we really shot. And man was it fun. We ripped around town with an SUV being chased by two cops. Right downtown Vancouver we were closing down streets and fish-tailing around corners, light blaring. No sirens but we will add that in later. Anyway it was fun and hopefully it’ll be funny to watch.

The rig to shoot from 24 floors up.

The rig we attached to the car to rip about the city.

The view from atop the building. The railing was about halfway up my thigh.

Bird two.
While I was in a production meeting, John sent me a message that I might need to take a long lunch that day. There was a possible Red-flanked Bluetail now showing in a park in Vancouver. I decided to wait until the next day and see if it got confirmed. By 10am the next morning, it was seen again and it’s ID was confirmed. SO, that day at lunch I was lucky enough to have a PA drive me out to the park. Upon arrival there were about 60 birders present. They had had the bird only moments before. Chances were good that I’d get this one too. We waited. Suddenly, it showed itself. With all the restraint I could possibly mustre, I gave my bins over to the non-birding PA that drove me to the park. She got the bird right away. I’m not saying she’ll be a birder but she made noises that only birders make when they see really rare shit. If she does indeed become more interested, her spark bird will be a RFBT. The feeling you got from your spark bird is a bit like that first hit of heroin. OK, not really but you do spend the rest of your waking hours dreaming of that same high again and it never gets to the same level as the first time. Like heroin. Either way, she will go many years before seeing another bird that’s even close to that rare. Unless she heads ten minutes down the road to the Brambling...

Red-flanked Bluetail by Langham Birder.

The other birders that showed up at the Brambling were a great and diverse group of dudes that were kind enough to let me populate that empty seat in their car and spend the day birding with them. We saw many species together and I feel like I made some new western friends over some western birds. I’ll let them identify themselves here if they see fit but meeting them made me see even more how diverse a group we really are. There was me, the punk loving Associate Creative Director, an Ophthalmologist, a graduate about to become a teacher and a dude that worked at the docks in Vancouver. We couldn’t be more different but so much the same too. We share that one thing birders all have; our addiction to seeing new birds.

Punk Rock Big Year
Paul Riss