Punctuated geekquilibrium

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I have never been able to get the hang of December. I don’t know exactly why. More likely than not, the short days have something to do with it – when night sets in around 4:30PM, all I want to do is hibernate. This year, especially, December has been hard to handle. I have more work to do than ever, but the seasonal blues have ground down my momentum.

I tried to fight this. I figured that, if I just got a few more projects off my desk, I would start to feel better. But I made a mistake. I stopped reading. I became so focused on my writerly output that I neglected to intellectually nourish myself, so it is no wonder why I have felt so sluggish.

Things have been a bit quiet at this blog over the past week. Every day that I neglected to post something new, I felt a twinge of guilt (even though I kept things going at Dinosaur Tracking). Rather than just write up something new for its own sake, though, I decided to take a little time and return to what inspired me to start writing about science in the first place. As if on cue, Stephen Jay Gould’s essay collection Leonardo’s Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms arrived. It is not my favorite Gould anthology, but I first read it at a critical time when I was just getting back into science. Taking time out to read a few of the essays reminded me that reading is an essential part of writing.

There are still a number of projects I want to finish up before the end of the year. After all, I am taking part in the Paleo Project Challenge. I won’t do anyone any favors by burning myself out, though, and I have a whole stack of books I plan to enjoy over the all-too-brief winter break.

Thank you for sticking with me.

Image: A red eft, the juvenile stage of the red spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens), photographed on a hike near High Point, New Jersey in July of 2009.