Lab Mates (for a day)

I’ve been back home for 2 weeks now, getting back in the swing of normal routines around home and the workshop. I feel like I’ve been busy – a little busier than I want to be but all is good. I’ve been coordinating with 3 middle school teachers about setting up presentations for their 7th grade science classes in September. It’s great to be able to be back going to schools to share what we do with the students after a long pause caused by Covid protocols. I have 2 full days in school planned for next month and a third being settled on. I don’t know how teachers do it – teach same subject to 5 seperate classes in a row in one day, rest, then repeat. We’ll see how I do & my enthusiasm sustains by the fifth session of the day repeating the same basic stories!

I’ve also got a few tours of the workshop planned for next month; an after school YMCA student group and a handful of the 7th grade students who I’ll be presenting to can chose to come for workshop tour later in the month. Remember Steve, keep the sarcasm and irony to a minimum with young people!

And we’ve had a few tours of interested people that had been delayed while I was out of state; so I’m working through those meet & greets as well. And, and, and…. had a couple of the guys who came out to dig in Montana come by to work in the lab on some of there coolest finds. Didn’t come to see me, didn’t come to help prepare our specimens, nope, just selfishly came by to work on their finds! Glad to have them each come by. Jeff visited and we worked on taking his 15(ish) shards of possible tooth and puzzling them back together to actually form something that is really very tooth looking now. Good find by Jeff and the putting it back together went well.

Not a photo from the shop – screen capture of Jeff from a video we did high on top of a butte on the ranch in Montana.

Jason also came by the shop to work on his neat partial back vertebra (not his own back, but a fossil he found of a likely hadrosaur spine vertebra). had a good day with Jase and at his suggestion (!) we started the morning at a coffee shop (just as I like to do) then hung out in the shop working on his vert. He was into it and got a lot of it cleaned up. More to do and more days in the near future for him to come back. He especially liked the power tools; air scribe (like a mini Jack hammer for removing rock from fossil) and air abrader machine (like a sand blaster but smaller and for blasting rock away from fossil surface). He made one grave mistake which I quickly corrected – he dared touch MY air scribe tool. Tsk, tsk! Nobody uses Steve’s air scribe, Jason! I got him straightened out with one of the many other scribes at his disposal and hard feelings were smoothed over – but not until he took me for lunch – his treat!

Jason working on his dinosaur vertebra in the workshop. Earplugs for ear protection or to drown out my persistent chatter – your guess?

Also had an old acquaintance, Jim, call me and then stop by to show me a handful of dinosaur bone parts & pieces he found along the shore of the Missouri River that he collected about 15 years ago while on what sounded like a really fun group canoe trip of about 150 miles. He’s had what he thought were dino bones just tossed in a box at home all these years. He was right – he had a good number of bone fragments that clearly can be identified as dinosaur fossil. And at least three pieces that are very cool – a caudal (tail) vertebra in fair to good shape and two fragments of bone that had odd/interesting shapes and slick, hard exterior bone surfaces. All three pieces worthy of cleaning & display. Jim didn’t know he was going to be working on fossil preparation but he got a crash course and did well cleaning up the pieces. He started with hand tools & brushes then graduated to using the “sand-blaster” to clean out the visible bone marrow areas and just give the bone surface a real good clean up. I encouraged him to set these 3 pieces up in some sort of display and to give away the handful of smaller fossil fragments to any interested kids (of any age!).

Jim working away on some dinosaur fossils in our workshop.