Hello folks who wonder when someone is told "You are definitely going places" if it means they will ultimately end up driving an Uber or a Lyft,

There are some trends and hobbies that were really popular in the past but with the advent of the internet and social media are never going to make a comeback. Let's take a moment to lament those hobbies which got their 15 minutes of fame.

  • Angry Birds game
  • Fidget spinners
  • Trading baseball cards
  • Collecting stamps and coins
  • Scrapbooking
Instead, we picked up new hobbies during the pandemic
  • Ordering unnecessary things from Amazon not because you need it but because it has 3000+ 5-star reviews or it has a deal on it
  • Stocking a collection of hand sanitizers and keeping one bottle in every bag you have in the house
  • Attending webinars on how to save planet Earth from plastic pollution while eating from a plastic takeout container you ordered from DoorDash
  • Obsessing over the infection rate in your city and predicting trends for the next week
  • Convincing yourself every day the reason you are not exercising is because the gyms are closed and you want to provide moral support

One of the hobbies I picked up during the pandemic was walking along a stretch of Alma Bridge road in Los Gatos and documenting dead newts that are currently paying the price of human encroachment in native wildlife habitat. I have covered the issue in a previous blog post over here. One of the times when I went this year, I got to witness hundreds of dead newts which is what we typically expect at this time of the year. But then, on the side of the road, I saw one that looked like it had a three-dimensional shape unlike the other 2-dimensional dead ones. Lo and behold, a live Pacific Newt for once.

And since I did not have the entire day to watch this one cross the road or want the guilt of it getting squished after I left, I took its fate in my hands and gave it a quick ride to the other side of the road. "Hey! this is not the Uber I ordered" it kept shouting for the entirety of the way.

Now, you might anticipate it is that time in the post where I ask you to give a pat on my back. Well, that would certainly feel good but I am not headed there. One of the things you might notice about these newts is their skin is grainy or warty in texture. Take a look to see what I am talking about.

But as the breeding males get ready to transition from a terrestrial life in the forest to searching for females in the water, their skin starts to smoothen and their tails flattens to aid in swimming effortlessly under water. Here is what a breeding male looks like.

And just like that, after milking it for a few hundred Instagram likes I released it back near water. (What am I supposed to do, the likes stopped coming!)

If raising awareness about these creatures and being part of the change, you want to see in the world is what you want, then I have the right opportunity for you. The Newt Patrol which is a group of like-minded volunteers (except that no one else in the group thinks we should keep abreast of what's going with ALL Kardashian sisters not just Kim) that document the dead newts on Alma Bridge Road to keep track of this Newt Massacre and provide data for agencies to act before it's too late, is looking for volunteers. We have opportunities for volunteers on weekdays and weekends. So, what's your excuse, sign up now to get trained on being on the Newt Patrol. Find more details and sign up here.  Also, feel free to reply to this email if you have any questions about volunteering. (And no, questions about whether you should double or triple mask while dining in a restaurant won't be entertained!)

Below is a volunteer who is having the time of his life during one of the Newt Surveys walking through a culvert.

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