Friday, October 19, 2012

SVP 2012

Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted anything.  In my defense, I've been pretty busy.  This is one of the things I've been busy with (click on it to see it bigger).  It's the poster I just presented this week at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.  If you're wondering what that is, it's basically a giant science fair for grownups and it's all about dinosaurs.  Though of course, dinosaurs are just a fraction of what the talks and posters are really about.  Anything and everything related to vertebrate paleontology can be found here.  It's been a really great opportunity to do some networking and educate myself on some of the most recent developments in my chosen field.  I'm very glad I've come. 



Sunday, July 01, 2012

God Loves Booger Eaters

Faith and I are co-authoring a new blog exploring healing and recovery from addiction to pornography from the perspective of both husband and wife. The first post explains the unusual name. Our hope is to reach out and help others through our own experiences and stories.  Check it out here:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Thomas Wilhelm Burk

I'm sitting in a hospital room while Faith and Thomas sleep. Thomas Wilhelm Burk was born at 12:12 pm today. He weighed 7 lbs 13 oz and was 18 inches long. My feelings are strong and many.

Yesterday, I got the call from Steve to go out to Vernal to work today and tomorrow. So last night as I was preparing to leave, I realized that I had done the math wrong in determining the time I needed to leave. I wanted to arrive in Vernal at 11pm. So three and a half hours before that is: (counting on fingers) 10, 9, 8, 8:30. Nope. 7:30. Anyway once I realized that if I were to have left last night, I would have arrived in Vernal at about 1 am. So I decided to go to bed right away and wake up super early to drive out. It's a very good thing that I did because at 1:30 am today, Faith woke me up telling me her water broke. If I had arrived in Vernal at 1 am. I would have just barely fallen asleep before my phone woke me up and I would have had to drive right back. I see the hand of the Lord directly in those events preventing me from having to do that being so tired and fatigued.

So we got ready and came to the hospital. We arrived at about 2:30 am and they admitted Faith right away. It wasn't her easiest labor, but definitely not her hardest either. She was brave and did awesome and delivered a healthy, beautiful baby boy, Thomas, our fourth child and second son.

Some of the highlights. She had so much amniotic fluid it soaked three towels. I gave her a blessing right before leaving at Michelle's suggestion. The blessing said everything would go according to the Lord's will and that Faith would have people who loved her there both in person and as ministering angels. She had to be poked 4 times to get a successful IV. It was pretty horrible. The epidural didn't work very well on her right side so she had a lot of pain, but she bore it bravely. She is beautiful and amazing and I'm so blessed to be sealed to her for time and all eternity. Her regular midwife wasn't there, but only arrived after. The midwife's partner midwife delivered her and did great. I woke up several people trying to get a hold of my Mom and saying I wouldn't come in to work.

When Thomas was first coming out I began to feel a very strong spirit. As I think about it, it wasn't just the regular Holy Ghost feelings I normally feel. I really think that there were many ministering angels present at that time and I felt their love and presence. It lasted for a while. The entire time from when I first saw his crown, through his birth, as he first started crying, as they gave him directly to Faith and for a little while after. I think many people feel those feelings and know it is a sacred time. The physical fulfillment of man's partnership in creating new life. What a special and holy experience. I'm so thankful to my Father in Heaven that I was able to be here and witness it.

Thomas calmed right down as soon as he realized it was his mother holding him. It was a precious moment as he felt comforted and loved and knew his mother would care for him.

There's a funny thing about being a father in the delivery room. You feel like just about the most useless person in the world. I don't remember that with Grace or Joy, and I totally missed Titus, but with Thomas, the feeling was acute. Let me explain. A man always has to have something to do, some purpose to feel useful and valued. Normally, that's not a problem. There's always something to do... almost. Getting up at 1:30 am and driving to the hospital, that's a quest! Your mission, should you chose to accept it is to get this woman in labor to the place where she and the child seeking deliverance from her will be safe and taken care of. Yes! Mission accepted! But once you get into the hospital room and the nurses take over, well, the father is just a lump. There's nothing meaningful left to do. Women know this instinctively. That's why in the old days they always sent the man out to boil water or chop wood or something. He needs to feel valued and like he's contributing to the effort of delivering this baby. That's what causes the endless waiting room pacing in the old movies. That's also why they have the Dad's cut the umbilical cord. Here they asked if I wanted to give him his first bath. He feels that he must be contributing something worthwhile to the endeavor and women find small ways to patronize him. Still, being present for this magical experience was wonderful and I wouldn't trade it for all the feeling useful in the world.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


I was recently introduced to a cause that I strongly believe in. A friend of my sister's is trying to raise enough money to begin filming a documentary film called Shamed. It "will look at removing the debilitating personal and group shame that exists around pornography and sexual addictions in conservative Christian communities". I believe that by openly acknowledging and addressing the prevalent problem of addiction to pornography, more of those who suffer from it can find the strength to begin taking the steps necessary to change their lives and begin the healing process. Hiding the problem only exacerbates it. A wound can only heal when cleaned otherwise it will fester and worsen. The same is true of addiction to pornography. I support the campaign to raise money for this film so that others can heal as I have. Please take the time to go to the website and view the two trailers. Also, you can view the Facebook page . I urge you to support it as well by donating (if you are able) and by sharing this message with all those you can.

Thank You,


Sunday, November 20, 2011

SVP 2011

Wow, I've been lazy about blogging lately. In my defense, most of the people who read this thing also check Facebook and have otherwise regular communication with me. I also haven't been doing a whole lot of prep lately so I don't have many pictures to post. Also, school this semester has been pretty brutal and I really don't have a lot of free time. That which I do have is mostly taken up by spending time with my awesome wife and kids or helping out around the house.
Excuses aside, I recently returned from a short trip to Las Vegas where I attended the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology of which I am a member. The only way I can justify going is if I present some original research so my boss can subsidize a portion of the trip costs. This year, I presented a poster about an extinct varanid lizard, Saniwa ensidens. It is closely related to the living monitor lizards. You can read about the prep here.
Magic Canyon (where this fossil came from) is a very cool place, I'd really like to go back and spend as much time as I want cataloging the fossils and then extracting them. Maybe next year I could to some sort of stratigraphic study of it. I can dream can't I?
Anyway, here is a much reduced in size and resolution copy of my poster. I put a lot of work into this guy and I'm very proud of the work. (Right click and choose 'View Image' to see it a little bigger.)My poster was received well. I didn't get a whole lot of traffic or comments on it, but that which I did receive was positive. My poster neighbor, Massimo Delfino, was the best neighbor I could have asked for. Each time neither of us had anybody speaking with us, he would come over and talk to me. He showed me some cool geology stuff on his netbook and just made me feel so at home in that big kids science fair.
I really didn't enjoy Las Vegas. I really wish Faith could have been there to enjoy it with me. But I didn't really leave my hotel room except to attend a few portions of the conference because I had a bunch of homework that needed to be done. In 2013, the SVP annual meeting will be in Los Angeles so I think I will go and take Faith and the kids, because it's a way better place for families (Ahem, Disneyland).



Thursday, May 19, 2011

Amynodon advenus, Part 4

I feel kinda silly posting more photos of another Amynodon advenus but that's what I've been preparing. For some reason over the past year and half, we've found a lot of them and a lot of Sphenocoelus skulls too. Another Amynodon was found and prepared (not by me), and we've got two more Sphenocoelus skulls at the office that were recently found.
Remember an Amynodon is closely related to a rhinoceros and Sphenocoelus is a brontothere (looks like a rhino but is related more closely to a horse). Rhinos, horses, and brontotheres are all perissodactyls which is a group of hooved animals that all have an odd number of toes. The only other living members of this group are tapirs, though there are several other extinct perissodactyl groups like the freaky awesome chalicotheres.
So anyway, this Amynodon was found near this Sphenocoelus.
First day of prep
Last day, prep complete
Odd toes,


Monday, April 25, 2011

Creodont - Oxyaenodon dysodus

Last year I spent quite a bit of time in the office doing prep and scheduling while my boss was away. When I finally got back out into the field, the others I was working with seemed to be finding all of the fossils on that first day. I said something like "Man! I've been in the office too long, I've forgotten how to find fossils." Less than 30 seconds later, I found this. I'm not 100% sure, but I think it is Oxyaenodon dysodus. It belongs to a group of extinct carnivorous mammals called Creodonts. Modern carnivorous mammals, Carnivorans, out-competed the Creodonts and drove them to extinction around 8 million years ago.
This is the first Creodont we've found at work (that I'm aware of) and it's in a type of rock in which we don't normally find fossils. The rock fractures very easily and is pretty hard, while the fossils are just a bit softer so that makes it challenging. This was on the surface and when I put all the pieces together it looked like swiss cheese with pieces missing in the middle. I endeavored to fill the gaps with bondo and glue with varying success. Here are photos of the jaws after prep. The pieces of the skull which were associated didn't come out looking so pretty, so I won't post them.
I normally end up preparing other people's finds, and I'm okay with that. This is one of the few fossils I've posted that I can lay claim to finding, and I'm very proud of it.

Sharp teeth,