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About Me

Education

M.S., Marine Science, 1994

Moss Landing Marine Laboratories

B.A., Aquatic Biology, 1988

University of California, Santa Barbara

B.S., Biopsychology, 1988

University of California, Santa Barbara

I attended the University of California at Santa Barbara from 1983-1988, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Aquatic Biology and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biopsychology. The double major was necessary to accommodate my interest in both aquatic biology and animal behavior. The aquatic biology program at UCSB provided an excellent education in the fundamentals of studying any biological system, and aquatic systems in particular, but it lacked the course work necessary to satisfy my interest in animal behavior. The biopsychology program provided the necessary course work in all aspects of animal behavior from learning and memory to classical and operant conditioning. An important distinction is in order regarding these two tracts of study: biopsychology (i.e. the study of animal behavior) should never be confused with the lesser field of psychobiology (i.e. the study of psychotic biologists).

Even though my focus of study was on non-human animal behavior, there were certain aspects of human biopsychology I found interesting enough to spend the year following graduation from UCSB conducting research to develop reliable animal models for the neurochemical basis of depression in humans. The hours were long, the pay was minimal, and I developed an annoying allergy to Sprague-Dawley rats. It was during this phase of my life that I developed a fondness for PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals). Fringe benefits of my work in the Biopsychology Lab at UCSB included periodic death threats and the occasional exploding care package in the lobby courtesy of PETA sycophants who objected to our use of laboratory animals. The fact that we made key discoveries that would improve the lives of patients with degenerative neurological disorders did little to quell their zeal.

My graduate studies consumed the time period from 1989-1994. I completed my graduate work at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, earning a Master of Arts degree in Marine Science with an emphasis in marine mammal ecology. I arrived in the region just in time for the Loma Prieta earthquake at 5:04PM on October 17, 1989. I was living in Santa Cruz and commuting to Moss Landing at the time of the earthquake -- a scant fifteen kilometers from the epicenter. The research facility at Moss Landing was completely destroyed due to a phenomenon known as "liquefaction" which caused the foundation of the building to separate and spread apart over one meter. I spent the remainder of my graduate career at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories alternating between a temporary facility in Salinas and my field work in San Francisco Bay. My graduate research focused on the ecology and behavior of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardsi) in San Francisco Bay, California.

Phylogeny

Kingdom: Animalia (multicelled eukaryotes)

Phylum: Chordata (chordates)

Subphylum: Vertebrata (vertebrates)

Class: Mammalia (mammals)

Subclass: Eutheria (placental mammals)

Order: Primates

Suborder: Haplorhini (tarsioids and anthropoids)

Infraorder: Catarrhini (old world monkeys; hominoids)

Superfamily: Hominoidae (apes and humans)

Family: Hominidae (humans)

Genus: Homo

Species: sapiens

Subspecies: conservo

Archaeological and historical evidence suggests the initial population of Homo sapiens in North America divided during the southward migration along the west coast, with one subpopulation inhabiting the Sierra Nevada mountain range and the other along the coastal regions. These two populations were reproductively isolated and diverged over time to form what are now generally recognized as two distinct subspecies (H. s. conservo and H. s. libero).

Both subspecies are similar in size and stature, but there are distinct phenotypic and behavioral differences. Homo sapiens libero appears to cultivate and display body hair more than H. s. conservo. A definitive explanation for this difference is currently lacking, but recent speculation has related the abundance of body hair in H. s. libero to factors such as temperature regulation, cryptic coloration, or mating rituals. The manner of clothing also differs significantly between subspecies. Homo sapiens conservo prefers a more modest approach with subdued, but stylish, coloration. Homo sapiens libero tends to prefer flamboyant forms of dress accented by brightly-colored hair formations and oddly-placed jewelry. This jewelry worn by H. s. libero commonly takes the form of "body piercing" in abundance and may involve nearly any portion of the anatomy. Preferred piercing points appear to be the nostrils, tongue, navel, eyebrows, and genitalia. The significance of this behavior is not currently known.

The primary behavioral differences between the subspecies are illustrated by their respective voting patterns on key issues. Homo sapiens libero consistently votes in favor of an increasing redistribution of wealth by force, while H. s. conservo consistently votes against this barbaric practice. Homo sapiens libero typically regards violent criminals as victims of an unjust society as they suffer from the debilitating effects of low self-esteem. They cannot, therefore, be held accountable for there actions and must be “rehabilitated” at a government facility funded by their societal oppressors. On the contrary, Homo sapiens conservo typically regards violent criminals as social predators who should be held accountable for their actions by permanently removing them from civilized society.

When election results do not reflect their preferences, H. s. libero often resorts to conjuring hordes of evil lawyer minions to file endless lawsuits to force their way. This is not the case with H. s. conservo. When election results do not reflect their preferences, H. s. conservo tends to respect the electoral process and abide by the outcome, however distasteful or unpleasant.

The home ranges of H. s. libero and H. s. conservo do overlap in the Central Valley region of California. Reproductive isolation between the two subspecies appears to be incomplete, with occasional interbreeding to produce fertile (albeit confused) offspring. At this time there is insufficient evidence to support any claims that speciation is complete. Longitudinal studies will be required to quantify the degree of speciation.

Professional

My professional career has run the gamut from the surreal to the sublime (not necessarily in order, with several repeats): lab denizen, animal trainer, commercial driver, business owner/operator, non-profit founder, teacher, and administrator. After spending a number of years as a "freeway flyer" adjunct instructor at multiple colleges in the Central Valley, I joined the Yosemite Community College District (YCCD) full-time in 1999 and earned tenure five years later. I've seen and experienced a lot at YCCD over the years. Now I have the singular distinction of having served both as a tenured faculty member and an academic administrator at both colleges within the District. I am currently enjoying my reprise in the classroom as both a science nerd and educator.   

Personal

I was born in Sonora, California, and raised in various locations throughout Tuolumne County. During those years, I made my way through Mother Lode Christian, Belleview Elementary and Summerville High schools. Though I did not fully appreciate it at the time, Tuolumne County was a great place to grow up.  As described previously, I moved to the coast of California to complete both my undergraduate and graduate education.

After years of fast-paced life in the San Francisco Bay area, we moved back to Tuolumne County in time for my oldest child to begin school. I have two children -- Josh (27) and Annie (21). My wife of 33 years, Stephanie, has been overheard commenting that she really has three children though. The Torok animal preserve currently consists of one dog with personal space issues and a variety of "wild" animals consisting mostly of deer, skunks, and raccoons along with roving gangs of turkeys and the occasional bobcat or mountain lion.

I am also an active member of a newly-formed church. In those rare moments when I am not working, I spend my time in the company of family and friends, playing with computers, conducting a variety field studies (with the appropriate pole or firearm in hand), as well as reading and writing about esoteric intellectual pursuits.