August 11, 2008

Quick MSA Highlights from Yesterday

Yesterday's foray yielded lots of interesting specimens, some of which I've photographed. I don't have time to post the photos yet, but I'll get to it later today. My schedule is very, very full and the day's sessions start at 8:00 AM today. There's some good stuff early on that I really don't want to miss.

Having the opportunity to meet and talk with some of these people has been both enlightening and a great deal of fun. I finally got the chance to meet Tom Volk in person yesterday after having spoken to him quite a bit when I was trying to decide on a graduate program. My companions on much of yesterday's foray were Brandon Matheny (whose nose, despite having been moved recently to Tennessee, is as sharp as ever), Martin Ryberg and Elisabet Sjökvist. Elisabet is both a fellow polypore researcher and affable conversationalist; it was particularly enjoyable getting to know her as we oohed and aahed over everything from Gomphus to Paxillus.

I also spent a good deal of time with some current and former members of Meredith Blackwell's lab at LSU. While I'm researching beetles that live inside of fungi, Dr. Blackwell's lab working on fungi that live inside of beetles. Stephanie Gross, Maritza Abril, Sung-Oui Suh and I shot the breeze a bit at the foray and reception. I must say that Dr. Suh was remarkably dry for a man who had just driven all the way from South Korea. I may well take Stephanie up on her offer to collect tenebrionidae in her neck of the Gulf Coast so long as she's not wearing the belt made from passalid guts that's he's threatening to create. Insect innards may seem amusing for awhile, Stephanie, but wearing one's guts on the outside is a fashion faux pas of tremendous magnitude.

I also got to spend a good deal of time at the reception with Heather Hallen-Adams and Rod Tulloss talking about Amanita. Well, they talked and I mostly listened. I learned more about the genus while sitting at the table and picking at popcorn than I have a in all my time to date. One should always say nice things about Amanita specialists; they know things. Dangerous things. Luckily for those of us studying the benignly non-lethal polypores, that's an easy thing to do. Heather has particularly good taste in pets, by the way, being the caretaker of a very handsome panther chameleon (one should say nice things about Amanita experts' pets as well, you know).

More later. It's time for me to get ready to go to the AFTOL session.

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