March 2, 2021

Loggerhead Shrike in Anza Borrego State Park

Saw this very cool bird on top of an Ocotillo cactus along Fish Creek Wash in Anza Borrego State Park.

Loggerhead Shrike

This bird is famous for impaling small mammals against the spines of cactus. A carnivorous passerine...

They call this bird, the butcherbird.

Check this video of the shrike's handiwork. It has impaled about 10 horned lizards on a cactus. 

credit:unknown (clearly not my photo, because the quality is too good....)

February 10, 2021

Pandemic 2021: The good news and the bad news

Hello friends,

It has been far too long since I last wrote. This past year has brought many changes in my life.

Among other things, I've moved into a new home in the eastern portion of San Diego County. This area is a nice change from the crowded coastline of southern California. I'll soon be planting citrus trees in my backyard.

In addition, Covid-19 has changed the focus of my career. Much of my work is centered around science communication and lately, everyone wants to talk about the pandemic. I've spent much of the past year talking to different groups about the evolving situation with the pandemic. I speak a lot about our own immune system (B cells, T cells, antibodies) and the manner the virus engages with our human physiology.

On Feb 10, I made the video below to summarize the situation with herd immunity and the new virus variants. In summary, I'm optimistic that we are on track to curtail the pandemic, but I do think the new variants are an additional curveball. I figured we would see mutations arise in the spike protein region of the viral genome, but I was hoping the mutations would not affect the protection delivered from natural immunity and vaccine induced immunity. Recent news suggests one of the new variants can escape our immunity to a certain degree.

I share all of my thoughts in the video below.