Claim to fame

Does anyone have any claims to fame? The odder the better. I was on tv when I was twelve as part of a BBC programme but didn’t get to speak.

The other is my daughters but I like to claim it also. She was born on 11/11/11 at 11:11 in theatre 11 which is also her mums birthday. For that we got in the national papers which was all kinds of bizarre.

I would love to hear some of yours.


I once fell into a bin at Manchester Airport while they were doing a Children in Need link there.

I met The Pope when I was a few months old, there’s a picture of him holding a FURIOUS baby me on my mum’s mantelpiece.

Seriously, imagine the angriest late 70’s baby you possibly can, and I’m even MADDER than that.


We always said my daughter had a grumpy face for the first two days she was born, like she was too comfy in her mums belly. Of course the papers came and took pictures when she still looked so annoyed.

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I named life (with a capital L), the taxonomic group that includes everything alive today. It is named Biota, and for part of the scientific world it is a deal (the other part doesn’t really care). But a very very small bookkeeping deal. Hard to explain at parties.

I also demonstrated that Tsintaosaurus, the ‘unicorn’ dinosaur with a solid spike on it’s head, actually didn’t have the spike but a really tall hollow crest. No one really cares that much, but our reconstruction made it into a Jurassic Park game. Not really a pickup line…


I care.


I knew I recognized you.


I care too.


Are you sure it wasn’t my appearance on crime watch that we don’t talk about.

Yeah, we are not fun at parties.

Them: Hi, what do you do?

Me: I teach human evolution in a museum setting. Would you like to learn more about Australopithecus afarensis?

Them: Blank look, slight gibbering. Wanders away looking for the bar.

Me: Sigh.


Gene Roddenberry did a lecture/presentation in my city shortly after ST II. Someone asked him if there was going to be a third movie, and he affirmed that there was, and they were going to call it ‘In Search of Spock’.

I laughed out loud, and GR gave me a quizzical look, like, ‘Why was that funny?’

Apparently he either figured it out or someone explained it to him, because the movie was called ‘The Search FOR Spock’.

And if you don’t know why it was funny, all I can say is you’re too damned young.

Anyway, I take credit for the name change.


Well after the Doctor Spock fiasco.


Yeah, but 1 in a 100 gets really excited by what you do. And odds are pretty good that if they do you have a lot in common. But yeah, I tend to emphasize that I teach and that I do research, less on what I actually teach or study. But if they ask, I tell them. At that point they’ve asked me a question, so yay, I’ve got their attention! Then I just have to hope they are in touch with their own or their kids’ inner 6-year-old.

Why so evasive? Let’s say I drop my job at, say, a college reunion. Peoples’ first response would be “Oh, is there any money in that?” You know the answer of course. Tends to change the tone of some sorts of conversations.


tell them the government pays $10000 per taxonomilogical discovery


You know, much as I am ethically bound not to buy and sell fossils, I could point out how much a dinosaur skeleton goes for at auction (a lot more than I’ll earn in my lifetime). Of course, that is a huge problem, because there are any number of new species in private hands that science will never see. And the last thing I want is my college classmates running out to North Dakota with jackhammers…

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Yep. there’s a reason The Chicago Field Museum had to have Disney and McDonald’s help them pay for Sue when she went up for auction.


I used to have mixed feelings about them buying Sue, but now I think they have done such a good job with education and outreach (and science) on Sue that they paid their penance. I’m sure they make money off Sue, but that money goes back into education and research (as you well know). It set a terrible precedent, but that was probably going to happen eventually. So I think that was ultimately a bit of a public service, and I appreciate them taking one for the team.

Full disclosure: I have no affiliation with the Field Museum. Eek, that would be cool!

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My second grade class (including me) was in a commercial for one of the local car dealerships. The daughter of the own went to my school and so the second graders got to stand out in front of the elementary school and shout, “He’s got the sharpest pencil in town!” Ten times before it was considered right. Then, I actually got to see the commercial on TV!


I would party with you.

I once had a guy explain costume prop fabrication techniques at me for over an hour. I loved it!

But my brother and I spent a few months making a steel chain mail shirt (made the links ourselves even) just for funsies so that’s in my wheelhouse.

And I work in catastrophe modeling for insurance premium calculation so I can’t really talk about my job either. ┐( ∵ )┌


Looks like interesting work:

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