This is another article from frequent contributor Kosmo. I love this idea, but I think I will way too busy this year
I have decided that 2022 will be the Year or the Dinosaur. Rawr!
I’m still a kid
Most kids outgrow their dinosaur phase. I never did. I’ve watched all five of the movies in the Jurassic Park franchise and have read countless books about the beasts. I have three stuffed dinos (T-Rex, Brachiosaurus, and Triceratops) that can be seen in the background of my work conference calls. I keep on on the major trends in vertebrate paleontology, but have never dedicated large amounts of time to the topic. This changes now.
Becoming an expert
I have decided to become an expert on the topic. Not at the level of an actual paleontologist, of course. With constraints in my life (job, family obligations, etc) I can’t possibly dedicate enough effort to reach paleontologist-level expertise. I believe that I can achieve the level of a sub-expert – a big step below a true expert, but far above someone who has a casual interest.
I think about a thousand hours of study should get me to that level. This is definitely a multi-year goal.
Why am I doing this? Because I find the topic interesting, and because the internet makes it achievable and fairly inexpensive.
I actually have a few dinosaur books on my Kindle, just waiting to be read. Dinosaurs 101 seems like a good place to start. As the name suggests, its a general book that hits the high points without going into great detail on any particular topic. It has been an easy read so far.
T. Rex and the Crater of Doom is a book written by Walter Alvarez. Alvarez was a member of the team that put forward evidence for the asteroid theory of dinosaur extinction. For those who aren’t familiar with the theory, the basic idea is that there is a layer of sedimentary rock that is high enriched with iridium. This layer appears around the world and appears to have been formed at the same time. Iridium is much more common on asteroids than it is on earth, leading to the theory that the worldwide deposits of iridium in that layer of rock was the result of an asteroid impact.
Hell Creek, Montana: America’s Key to the Prehistoric Past tells the history of a geological formation that covers part of Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas.
I will ease into the process with some podcasts. I’ve been listening to the I know Dino podcast recently. This podcast alone has 300+ hours of content. This will serve as the backbone of my dinosaur podcast experience, but I’ll jump into other related podcasts from time to time.
I know Dino features a married couple (Garrett and Sabrina) who are dinosaur nuts. In the past six weeks, I’ve listened to 25 of the episodes. I’m learning a lot about bones. I’ve always had some trouble keeping human bones straight – especially the leg and arm bones. Constant references to specific dinosaurs bones is also helping me reinforce my knowledge of human bones, since humans and dinosaurs have a lot of bones in common.
I know Dino is technically free, but there are ways to support it. I haven’t yet become a Patreon supporter, but I’ll definitely be doing that in the future. Patreon is a good way to reward your favorite content creators with a few bucks in their pocket every month.
The podcast also sells merchandise. I’ve bought a mug, sweatshirt, and t-shirt.
In addition to the Jurassic Park movies, there are a fair number of documentaries about dinosaurs. Evolution of the T-Rex begins with T-Rex’s earliest Tyrannosaur ancestor, who served as mesopredator, while the Allosaurus filled the apex predator niche. The Tyrannosaurs eventually grew in size and filled the apex niche when the Allosaurs died out. (Your homework assignment – look up the word mesopredator.)
I’ve just started on the BBC series Walking with the Dinosaurs. I’ve also purchased the subsequent movie with the same name.
At this point, I’ve spent about $50 on books and videos and $10 at Michael’s on a nifty T-Rex skull for my desk. I spent $60 on the I know Dino merchandise, but those are functional items. I can wear the shirts and sip hot chocolate from the mug. Hobbies tend to take a bit of spending in the early stages, so I’m sure I’ll spend a bit more money in the coming moments. Long term, I’d expect to spend around $10-15 per month – picking up the occasional book that catches my attention. I’ve been spending 5-7 hours per week on dinosaurs, so that comes out to an hourly cost of about fifty cents.
Becoming a dinosaur expert is my cheap hobby. What are your ways of entertaining yourself and your family cheaply?[Editor’s Note: I’m going to learn the Python programming language this year and build some kind of tiny/trivial app. This shouldn’t be too difficult because I used to be a software engineer. However, very few people used Python back when I was programming. I’m also very rusty – I’ve spent too much time writing about personal finance.
There are numerous YouTube videos about programming in Python and I think I have a Kindle book that I picked up for free. There are often free Kindle books on programming languages. I’m sure the library also has quite a few books on Python. My library automatically renews the book for months on end unless there’s big demand for it. I think there will be plenty of availability of Python books.
I don’t think it will cost me anything to become pretty good at Python. There’s a potential that I could even make some money with it.]