I'm a wreck. Everywhere I look, I see people who have their shit together to a higher degree than I do.
I don't have any data. No database, no big collection of specimens, no organized framework, no clear sense of where I'm going in the medium-to-long term--no program, in other words. Just a dubious stew of weird specimens, half-baked ideas, and curiosity. And, well, okay, I do have a little data. Little enough that just about everyone else has more.
A couple of clarifications here. First, I'm not complaining. My strategy of working on whatever's most interesting has gotten me this far and kept me happy in the meantime. Most of the people who do seem to have their shit together expend all that organizational energy on problems that seem deadly dull to me. I'm just worried that someday I'm going to be called to account--for example, by a job search committee--and when they ask, "Wedel, what the crap are you doing?" I won't have a satisfactory answer.
Second, I'm not kidding. I've tried to express this before, but no one believes me. Evidently I give off the air of someone who knows what he's doing. I'm just trying to give you the Wedel-internal view. Who knows, maybe everyone feels this way and I don't know that because no one ever talks about it.
Unless you're part of a search committee and you're checking up on me, in which case I am stone-cold badass researcher, and I'm just writing all this baloney to keep the proles from feeling too bad about how much their lives suck.
Anyway, that's not what I sat down to blog about. I also have a collection of toy sauropods. I'm sure it's nowhere near the world's biggest, and I'm not bragging, I'm just telling. I tend to pick up a new one whenever I take a trip somewhere. I can tell you that the NHM Cetiosaurus came from my first trip to London and the NHM Mamenchisaurus came from the second, and that the Brachiosaurus skeleton came from the gift shop at Dinosaur National Monument (the one at the Wall, not the one on the road in with the ride-able Diplodocus from the previous post). I'm not sure if it would be inspiring or pathetic if I could remember where I'd gotten every one. In any case, I can't.
There's only one that is really worth blogging about at all, and that's the plush Sauroposeidon. I found it in a Discovery Channel store in Dallas, Texas, late in 2000. They must have made them in a hurry, since we only announced the beast's existence in the late fall of 1999. And they made them without our knowledge or input, since I first learned that the toy existed when I saw it in the store. I'm not complaining, mind you. As far as I'm concerned, once the thing is out there, it's out there, and people can do with it what they want. I'm just saying that as the primary namer of the dinosaur, I was shocked to see it incarnated as a toy. Pleasantly shocked and flattered as hell, but shocked nonetheless.
Oh, and they're not available anymore. I wish I'd bought a dozen. As it is, I only have the one. I bought one each for my mom and my grandma, too. Mom ties a red ribbon around the neck of hers at Christmas, which is kinda touching.
About the only other thing to tell about it is something my brother Todd said. When I was all stressed out about my oral qualifying exams, he told me that I should just walk into the exam room, set the plush Sauroposeidon on the table, and ask, "Any questions?" I thought that was pretty funny, but I'm pretty sure my committee wouldn't have.
Anyway, here's a photo of the thing with the NHM Brachiosaurus for scale--and, conveniently, to scale.
P.S. If you're burning with curiosity about who's who in the photo at the top, here's the best I can do, from left to right by head position, with genus, maker, and purchase location where available.
Apatosaurus, Wild Safari
Brachiosaurus, Wild Safari
Brachiosaurus skeleton, maker unknown, DNM gift shop
Brachiosaurus (little rubber guy in front row)
Amargasaurus, Carnegie collection
Brachiosaurus (LRG in front row), tube 'o dinos from the Smithsonian
Cetiosaurus, NHM collection, NHM gift shop
Mamenchisaurus (head down near LRG), Carnegie collection
Brachiosaurus, Schleich collection, Stuttgart museum gift shop
Sauroposeidon, Discovery Channel store, Dallas
mystery sauropod skeleton, Arby's kids meal, San Jose
Brachiosaurus, NHM collection, gift from Tony Campagna
Apatosaurus, Schleich collection, hardware store in Enid, OK
Brachiosaurus, Carnegie collection
Brachiosaurus (LRG in front row), Cal Acad gift shop
Brachiosaurus (plush), Field Museum gift shop
mystery sauropod Mexican bobble-head, gift from Alan and Sophie Shabel
Mamenchisaurus, NHM collection, NHM gift shop
Corythosaurus (not a sauropod), found on beach in Santa Cruz
mystery caveman, ditto
baby Apatosaurus, Carnegie collection
LEGO Brachiosaurus, Wal-Mart
Brachiosaurus, Burger King kids meal, gift from Terry Cooper
Brontosaurus, Mold-a-Rama machine, Field Museum
The last one is one of my favorites, and noteworthy because you can still get one if you can get your ass to Chicago. In the basement of the Field Museum, right outside the McDonalds, are four huge Mold-a-Rama machines from the 50s that will form a Tyrannosaurus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and Apatosaurus out of hot stinking carcinogenic plastic right before your eyes. I really wanted to complete my set (of 1) when I was there last summer, but slave-driver Mike insisted that seeing the Brachiosaurus holotype was more important. Whatever!