entomologist
41 Scottsdale, United States
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entomologist
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My self-summary
I'm a secular humanist, a progressive Democrat, a science fiction fan, and a biologist by training. I currently reside in Phoenix, and regularly visit Las Vegas*, Southern California, and the SF Bay Area (in roughly that order of frequency) to spend time with family and friends.

*The City of Lost Wages is an odd destination for a guy who doesn't gamble very much, hardly drinks at all, and isn't all that interested in the kind of stage entertainment for which that town is known, either -- but my best friend from college lives there.
What I’m doing with my life
Driving Lyft and Uber users around Greater Phoenix, which I've been somewhat bemused to discover pays much better than being the quality control inspector at the tissue bank where I used to work, even after figuring in business expenses like buying my own health insurance, commercial auto insurance, and having to fill the gas tank twice a week (this on a car that gets 47 MPG!). I also sometime teach biology as an adjunct professor at one or another of the Maricopa Community Colleges.
I’m really good at
Science, history, reading aloud, ballroom dancing (actually, I'm pretty rusty at that now, but I used to be good at it), role-playing games, backrubs, editing written English, polyamory,* and remembering random bits of information about anything and everything.

I also seem to be pretty good at remaining friends with women I've dated and/or married; both my ex-wife and my other former long-term girlfriend remain among my best friends, and I'd have no hesitation in asking either of them for a character reference to a prospective employer or a court of law.

*By "good at polyamory," I mean I have very little tendency to jealousy, and strive to avoid causing tension in my SO's relationship with her OSO, especially when I'm the secondary partner.
The first things people usually notice about me
On sight, the beard and the ponytail. After talking to me a bit, the things most people seem to comment on are my rather large vocabulary and breadth (though not always depth) of knowledge across a wide variety of subjects.
Favorite books, movies, shows, music, and food
Books: Lois McMaster Bujold's "Miles Vorkosigan" series, David Weber's "Honor Harrington" series, George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire," Harry Potter*, and almost anything by Robert A. Heinlein, Spider Robinson, or Larry Niven. In the last few years I've read all of John Sandford's Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers mysteries and Andrew Vachss' Burke novels. I also love Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Edward O. Wilson's Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, and Richard Dawkins' writings on evolutionary biology (his work on atheism is less interesting, even though I largely agree with it, and the man himself tends to come off as a clueless, privileged jackass on Twitter, but his popular science writing is fantastic). Among authors that a high school English teacher might respect, I like Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain, Umberto Eco and Mark Helprin.

I'm currently reading The Wheel of Time; not sure yet if it will qualify as one of my favorites, but it's pretty entertaining, despite the eye-rolling gender essentialism of Jordan's magic system and the fact that ta'veren is so obviously Old Tongue for "protagonist." I think it might have been more interesting if the prophesied hero had been an agendered or intersexed character uniquely capable of channeling both saidar and saidin, but, eh, whatever. At least he has more and more interesting female characters than most earlier epic fantasy writers. I like the elements in the series more characteristic of science fiction, such as the existence of parallel timelines (as suggested by the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics) and the glimpses the characters get of the magic-powered industrial civilization of the Age of Legends.

Movies and Shows: Lord of the Rings, Sin City, Princess Mononoke, The Abyss, The Milagro Beanfield War, Watership Down, The Usual Suspects, many others equally eclectic. I'm partial to anime, possibly because there's more good sf and fantasy produced in that medium than in Hollywood. I don't watch much TV, but I love Firefly, Red Dwarf, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica (the reimagined series, that is, not the cheesy seventies Star-Wars-meets-the-Book-of-Mormon version), The Wire, Game of Thrones, and The Newsroom (ACN NewsNight with Will McAvoy would also be one of my favorite shows if only it actually existed).

Music: folk and filk (especially Dar Williams and Echo's Children), classical, movie scores, some rock and pop, notably Billy Joel, Great Big Sea, and Blind Guardian.

Foods: I make excellent London broil, grilled salmon, and Caesar salad with lemon chicken. (Note that a true Caesar salad does not involve a bottle or, worse yet, a pouch of something inaccurately labeled "Caesar dressing" -- the real thing has all the wet and dry ingredients placed on the salad separately, then tossed together.) When dining out I like a wide range of ethnic cuisines, as long as I can avoid extremely hot dishes (no vindaloo, Thai green curry, or habaneros for me, and keep the berbere at a safe distance). I'm fond of Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Greek, Middle Eastern, Italian, and Indian food, and I love trying out more unusual cuisines such as Afghani, Cuban, Brazilian, Ethiopian, and Swedish. My least favorite foods, aside from anything high in capsaicin, are broccoli, melons, and some kinds of cheese, although I do like feta, mozzarella and parmesan (especially Kraft grated parmesan, which in my opinion tastes almost -- but not quite! -- entirely unlike cheese). I'm also not fond of fish sauce, nor of savory dishes made with coconut milk, which means that while I can usually find something I'll like at a Thai restaurant, most of the menu won't interest me.

Games: I enjoy playing Dungeons and Dragons. (Or Pathfinder RPG -- being based on the 3.5 ruleset, Pathfinder feels more like D&D to me than what the Wizards of the Coast call "D&D 4th Edition." If I wanted to play World of Warcraft, I would play World of freakin' Warcraft; I don't need it repackaged as a tabletop game and mislabeled "Dungeons and Dragons.") However, it's been a while since I had a group to play with. I'm thinking of forming my own and GM'ing the "Rise of the Runelords" campaign some time in the near future. I also like Settlers of Catan, Carcasonne, Chrononauts, and Cards Against Humanity, and am not averse to learning and playing other board and card games -- even ones that don't begin with "C."

Per Atropa777's suggestion, I'll also mention that my favorite insects are the mantids. The European praying mantis, introduced into North America in 1899, is probably the most familiar to most people, but my favorites are some of the showy tropical species that are adapted to mimic the orchids on which they lurk.

* I recently finished reading Eliezer Yudkowsky's Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (HPMOR) at hpmor.com. Fun as the original novels are, they have some gaping plot holes and failures of logic that always bothered me when I stopped to think about them. Yudkowsky (a.k.a. Less Wrong) fixes most of those, and takes the story in some very interesting directions indeed, while teaching the reader a great deal about analytical thinking and the scientific method. Highly recommended.
The six things I could never do without
Heat, oxygen, food and drink, reading material, broadband internet access, and intelligent conversation. Granted, the last three are just things I would never voluntarily choose to do without.
I spend a lot of time thinking about
Evolutionary biology and its implications for human and animal behavior, progressive politics and related philosophy, Bayesian reasoning, sex, whatever I happen to be reading at the moment, and games (mostly tabletop RPGs, boardgames and card games -- I don't play a lot of computer games, and I don't own a console).
On a typical Friday night I am
Working lots of hours -- Fridays and Saturdays are when Uber and Lyft are most profitable.
The most private thing I’m willing to admit
If I admitted it on my profile, it wouldn't be private. Ask me in a message if you really want to know.
You should message me if
You want to chat about any of the topics I've mentioned; you like to hang out, cook dinner together, and watch a movie or play a board game; you know a good ethnic restaurant that I should try (the more exotic the better); you think the prior probability that we'll enjoy each other's company is ≥0.5, and you want to find out if the posterior probability after talking to me is higher. If you message me, I'll almost certainly reply, at least once.
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