Friday, October 31, 2008

Pam Atlas, meet Occam's Razor

I happen to know you're not personally acquainted with it yet, ever since liquifying my frontal lobes on this screed. (don't worry, "nofollow"ed)

Well, theoretically, things *could* have gone down the way you postulate, I suppose. However, when you look at the picture of Barack Obama's maternal grandfather over at Peg Britton's post at, a different hypothesis, one that does not "multiply entities unnecessarily" comes to mind.

Even Mr. thalarctos, the poster child for prosopagnosia, can see the resemblance clear as day. As we say in Alabama, Obama "takes after" his grandfather, or he "favors" him.

And once again, it highlights the arbitrariness of the social construct "race"--when two men of such different origins look so alike, it points out how many possible features are ignored, just for the purpose of focusing on skin color.

(Not even to mention, Malcolm X was no "liberal", but there's so much else batshit craziness there, it hardly even seems worth mentioning.)

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It does taste like chicken!

For some unknown reason, DayJob, Inc. served crocodile stew in the cafeteria today, and the server was kind enough to let me have a taste before committing to an entrée.

It really does taste like chicken. I don't know about "just" like, though--I thought there was a distinctive difference, but couldn't pin it down--aroma? texture? It was distinct enough and not to my liking enough that I decided to give it a pass.

Of course, the test was fundamentally flawed, though--no control group and no blinding. Someday I'll have to sample chicken and crocodile, not knowing which similarly-prepared sample is which, to get a real data point.


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Monday, October 20, 2008


A drama in 3 acts.

Act I: making applesauce with friends.

Act II: an unexpected discovery at the bead store.

I stopped in to look for a mountain climber charm to top off a clock Dale made commemorating my friend and colleage Damian; what they had instead was a fossil shark tooth!

Act III: Fuck.

Opened my email for the first time today. An old friend, who I thought was making a good recovery in hospital, just entered hospice.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

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Autumn brunch

So I've been spending quite a bit of weekend time at the house of the PI for the bear reproductive biology project, working on potential publications, and it's a nice place to work--a right place for right livelihood.

We've had some nice brunches before and during the writing sessions. I stopped by the store to get some fresh vegetables on the way, and the atmosphere is very autumnal:

I couldn't decide whether I liked that tomato in the bottom right of the frame, but I certainly noticed it--it looked like the movie Alien if Veggie Tales had produced (ha!) it:

It did say something to me, although I'm not sure quite what; in the end, I decided to go a different route. I already had blueberries and Italian plums that Emma had invited me to pick in her garden; noticing an unfamiliar fruit--a tamarillo from New Zealand--I decided to get one to try at brunch:

In the end, it was a good thing that I only got one--not sure what she experienced it as, but to me, it tasted like kiwi meets tomato meets mango meets soap. We finished all the other fruit, but not the tamarillo.

Fortunately, she knows some gorillas who love all kinds of fruit, so it turned out not to be wasted.

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Frank's pin

(this is another one of those "do not adjust your screen" blurry photos. I am having a bear [ha!] of a time photographing the jewelry I make. I probably should take a class in photographing jewelry, as I've seen some nice examples over at Etsy...)

So I promised Frank a long time ago I would make him a pin, and for his birthday last month, I made good on that promise--sort of. You see, the project was originally envisioned to be a bear outlined in copper wire, looking something like this, from the Bear Taxon Advisory Workgroup site:

But, as with so many of my projects, the problem turned out to be scale--it was a lot easier to sculpt copper wire at the original size than at the roughly 1/4th-size that would be more appropriate for a pin. So, under those selective pressures, the bear evolved into a neuron, which now sits on my bookcase, and Frank was still pin-less.

Emma was encouraging that, even if it didn't fit the original vision, Frank would treasure a homemade gift from me, so I made a couple of tactical revisions in order to get it done in time for his birthday. Because he's such a cat-lover, it seemed like it would be ok to swap the ursine theme for a feline one, and when I saw this big leopard face at Ben Franklin, it was so appealing that I decided ready-made, in place of home-sculpted, would be ok.

I went with yellow and black beads to reinforce the "leopard" theme, and this is the finished product, although it didn't photograph well:

It looks focused in the viewfinder, but then the flash on the beads or something else unfocuses it--I'm not sure what the problem is.

I'm happy with the pin, in a kind of Grandma Moses naive way, but I want to drive my style to end up ultimately in a different place. I don't think this will be representative of my future work.

Frank loved his homemade birthday pin, but I still want to try to carry out the original vision one of these days as well.

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Please do not adjust your screen. The problem is not in your computer.

(It's that my camera isn't suited for macrophotography. One of these days, I'll get one with a macro lens, especially as the invertebrate and phyto worlds pull me ever closer inward.)

Emma's fruit garden yielded a lot of currants this year, and I got quite a lot for making jams this winter. One thing led to another, and it was a week or so after I picked them that I got around to cleaning and freezing them.

When I pulled the currants out of the fridge, two corpses were discovered:

Like I said, it's a really crappy photo, but I couldn't seem to get a clearer one--pulling back a little led to weird reflections off the bowl. But maybe this is enough to confirm or rule out the guess that they may be katydids.

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In its own habitat

I house-sat recently for the friends I gave my first stained-glass piece to.

It was good to see it in natural light in its own home.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Things are looking up, I hope

One of the kindest things I've witnessed is when someone deep in mourning for a pet nevertheless takes the time to reach out, and pass on that pet's unused food or medication for someone else in need to use. It takes compassion to get out of one's own pain and to think of others at such a difficult time, and I've always admired people who can reach out in that way.

Even by my own low baseline, I've sucked at blogging lately. I started listing the RL things that have happened in the past year, and had to stop because the list itself was so long, it became a stressor in its own right.

But things are calming down, I hope, I hope. While I'm sitting here writing a paper, and have my beloved crime shows on as background noise, and they just ran a commercial for a product called Little Allergies.

Which reminded me that back in June, I bought a similar product called Little Noses on my vet's recommendation, to use for Cleo. She was so sick, and needed surgery so badly, yet we couldn't get a handle on her upper respiratory symptoms long enough to feel confident to schedule surgery. We hoped that a combination of drugs plus manual decongestion with the saline solution would get her into shape for surgery, but it turned out to be too late for those measures. She needed surgery right away, and we didn't even have time to try the Little Noses because she had ceased eating.

I've never been much of a housekeeper at the best of times, but during the May-October extended cat emergency season this year, the place has gone even further to hell than is the norm. Now that events are ebbing a bit (I hope!) I've been cleaning up the place a bit. As I did so, I found Cleo's Little Noses, sitting unused right where I left it.

For once, it was a joy to pass on unused medication to the vet, who told me that yes, there are certainly people and animals who can use it. I am grateful that, this once, the medicine is being donated because Cleo is doing just fine without it. She's made a full recovery, and is returning to being the mesomorph she used to be.

So the tally since May: 3 emergencies, 3 good outcomes. With less than half her teeth remaining, Cleo has resumed her place on the warm pad and is watching the world go by. Isadora needs minor wound care for a little recurrent seepage at the site of her ear amputation, but otherwise doesn't miss the ear and the chronic infections a bit. Simon (Caspian) remains the most fragile, but he is trending the right way--his BUN and creatinine were so high when we took him in that the vet's instruments couldn't even read the values. They had been trending down, and currently are plateaued at very high, but readable values. The vet says with the values, he ought to be acting a lot sicker than he is--he is gaining weight, and approaching us affectionately, which encourages me that maybe--whatever is attacking his kidneys--he is fighting it off.

Speaking of fighting off, he is determinedly non-compliant about the fluids, pills, and hand-feeding I'm currently carrying out; I prefer to look at it as fighting back as an encouraging improvement, in addition to being a major pain in the ass.

So rather than tempt fate by promising a definite date when I'll be more diligent about blogging, I'll just mark that things are continuing to get better, and--despite the best efforts of RL to kick my ass--we have not given up!

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