I posted this on Facebook a while ago, but I’m re-posting here so everyone can see it.
This is one of the coolest exhibits I’ve seen in quite a while. What you’re seeing is a lucite box with whelks on the top and a piece of fish screwed to the bottom. The whelks are adapted to live on the rocky ocean floor, and send their long flexible mouth things down in between the rocks to feast on whatever things they can scavenge. In this exhibit, you get to see a behavior that is extremely interesting and that, gives you a very different understanding seeing it than reading about it.
Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
In reading about these guys, I learned that, like all* butterflies, it can’t chew so it has to suck fluids from through it’s proboscis. Unlike most butterflies, this one lives off of “rotting or fermenting fruit.”
That means you’re looking at a photo of a carrion eater.
Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
This was a shocker. I didn't know about the heart surgery, and I was shocked to hear he'd died. Other than the valve, Jordin was in pretty good shape.
I am still reeling. He was kind of a mentor to me in the filk community. He showed me how to deal with difficult situations with grace and dignity. He was also a gentleman, a gentle soul, and had a terrific sense of humor.
My sympathy goes out to Mary Kay Kare and to the rest of his family.
Here's the thing ...
Every one of us is going to, at some point, die - all of our friends, our family, everyone we know. It not a fun thing to acknowledge, but it's inevitable. McCain represents a bunch of people who are publicly taking a stance that if you don't have enough money, you somehow deserve to die sooner, and with far greater pain and suffering, than everyone else. McCain having a brain tumor does not change this fact.
Cancer sucks whoever gets it, but just as pre-existing conditions do not indicate moral failure, getting sick also does not absolve past sins. Every Republican "repeal and replace" option that's made it to a vote has been designed to systematically kill people, if not you, then people you know ... people you love.
If we were living in a story, this would be the point in the narrative where one powerful man comes to a realization, has a change of heart, and switches sides. Alas, we do not live in a story. We are not characters, despite the attempts by ideologues to turn us into bit players in their self-aggrandizing stories about how life should be. We have some control over our lives, not everything of course, but some things.
McCain will either recover or he won't. We have no control over that.
The healthcare bill will either pass or it will not. We do have some control over that. If pointing out the hypocrisy between our representatives' words and deeds helps to save lives, if using irony to make a point reduces suffering for all, if dark humor can help us avoid dark fates ... say what you will and don't feel guilty about it.
We do still have free speech in this country. Use it.
Here's how it happened; I went out for a walk around dusk, because I hadn't gotten any exercise that day, and I tromped around campus for a while playing Pokémon Go and about the fourth time the app crashed on me I decided I'd had enough exercise and started walking home. By now it was full dark, maybe 10 pm or 10:15.
I was tromping down the street full tilt in my usual "take no prisoners" pace, when I noticed a couple of police cars by the back dock of the Post Office, with their flashing blue lights on. As I came by I saw a white car pulled over in the glare of their headlights being searched by a policeman while a pair of young people sat stiffly on the nose of the police car with another policeman talking to them.
I would ordinarily have passed by, politely pretending not to notice these stressed people. But these are not ordinary times and I've been hearing things, and I started weighing things over in my head. The girl was white, very blond--the boy was wearing a red watch cap and I couldn't see enough of him to be sure of his color. A couple of my friends had mentioned the Power Of The Middle-Aged White Woman to keep cops from getting violent. Should I stay?
Could the police men even see me in the dark? I was wearing a white shirt; surely they could. Wait, now the boy turned his head and I could see he was white too. Maybe they didn't need me. Probably they didn't. I should go.
But I could feel the urge to turn around and leave, especially when the policemen kept glancing my way. Like a social repulsor field. And I thought: maybe I should stay just for the practice. Practice Being There. So I stayed.
The policemen glanced at me again. I reminded myself I had every right to be there, and to watch policemen doing interesting things on public property. I stayed. One of the policemen drove away. Mosquitoes came and expressed their pleasure that I had been so accommodating as to wear shorts. I asked myself what Judi would do. I stayed. A new policeman drove up and talked to the kids a while.
Then he walked over to me saying "May I help you?" Jimminy Christmas he was actually taller than me which doesn't happen very often.
I smiled and said "No thanks, I'm just watching."
He said "that's fine, you have every right to watch." (Ha. White Woman Privilege at work.) "I just wondered if you knew these juveniles."
I smiled and shook my head and said "Sorry, no."
He walked back over to the kids. My feet got tired and I leaned against a nearby stone wall. More talking. I wondered if there might be ticks in the lawn the stone wall was retaining. I hoped not. Presently he led the girl over to his police car. I moved a bit so I could see that he wasn't hurting her. She got in the back of his car. He drove her away. I sat back down on the stone wall.
After a while the boy was allowed to go sit in the driver's seat of his car. He smoked a cigarette. I stayed. And a while after that the remaining policeman got in his car, pulled out and drove away, and the boy did likewise and I went home.
I stayed for roughly an hour and came home with tired feet and new mosquito bites, and had Kip check me for ticks before I went to bed. (No ticks, whew; ticks really give me the creeps.) It was not an easy thing to resist the social repulsion field and all the voices in my own head telling me everything was fine and I didn't have to be there and I was probably embarrassing those kids or the policemen or both, and for nothing. But it was a lot easier for me than it would have been for someone who didn't have my advantages. And hopefully next time it will be easier still.
Because there will be a next time. I'm practicing.
Just a couple of these things, & it pays for itself. For example, the Fiction River anthology alone [nearly 800 pages!] is 8.00 on Kindle. The Uncollected Anthology Year One [490 pages] is only available as a $24 paperback. Afaik, this is the only e-book edition. The Grayson trilogy is excellent, romance-with-woo-woo fun; the Rusch Diving series has great buzz. The Faerie Summer is a 20-book e-book set.
Throw in the others, & that's a lot at an excellent deal. Squee!
filkferengi, off to buy it now
I think we should stop calling certain types of people “snowflakes”.
The term “jellyfish” is much more apt, as it seems they just spend their time floating around the Internet stinging people, but whenever they encounter anything that isn’t exactly like themselves in their specially-designed jellyfish-bubble of safety, they start falling apart – whining about how unfair life is.
Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
1. You currently own more than 20 books:
2. You currently own more than 50 books:
3. You currently own more than 100 books:
Let's just lump all these together under HELL, YEAH.
4. You amassed so many books you switched to an e-reader:
Not really. I added the Kindle app to my phone for traveling convenience, and because of a few things I wanted which were only available in e-form. But I still prefer hard-copy overall.
5. You read so much you have a ton of books AND an e-reader:
That would be me. I should note that I also have a TBR stack on my Kindle app.
6. You have a book-organization system no one else understands:
Mostly it's pretty straightforward. Where people might disagree is some of my judgment calls.
7. You're currently reading more than one book:
Generally speaking, yes.
8. You read every single day: Yes.
9. You're reading a book right now, as you’re taking this book nerd quiz: No.
10. Your essentials for leaving the house:
My belt-pack and cellphone. I don't have to carry physical books any more because of the Kindle app.
11. You've pulled an all-nighter reading a book: Yes, many times.
12. You did not regret it for a second and would do it again:
If that refers back to #11, yes.
13. You've figured out how to incorporate books into your workout: Workout?
14. You've declined invitations to social activities in order to stay home and read:
This happens in the other order. I decline a social invitation because I don't want to go, and then I end up staying home and reading instead of doing something else.
15. You view vacation time as "catch up on reading" time:
Not as a rule. If I've spent money to go somewhere and do something, I'm going to do it. Reading may happen during travel time or in the evenings.
16. You've sat in a bathtub full of tepid water with prune-y skin because you were engrossed in a book:
No -- reading in the bath isn't compatible with showers.
17. You've missed your stop on the bus or the train because you were engrossed in a book:
No, but I did miss a fork on the interstate once because I was listening to an audiobook. That was the only time I ever tried to listen to an audiobook while driving.
18. You've almost tripped over a pothole, sat on a bench with wet paint, walked into a telephone pole, or narrowly avoided other calamities because you were engrossed in a book:
No! I loathe people who aren't paying attention to what they're actually doing.
19. You've laughed out loud in public while reading a book:
Yes. And then glanced around to see if there was anyone nearby who'd be likely to appreciate the joke.
20. You've cried in public while reading a book (it’s okay, we won’t tell): No.
21. You're the one everyone goes to for book recommendations:
Only some people. It's pointless to solicit recommendations from (or make them to) someone who doesn't share your taste.
22. You take your role in recommending books very seriously and worry about what books your friends would enjoy:
That's putting way too much emphasis on a matter of opinion.
23. Once you recommend a book to a friend, you keep bugging them about it:
I may ask them, once.
24. If your friend doesn't like the book you recommended, you're heartbroken:
Disappointed, sometimes. Heartbroken... no, I don't invest that much of my ego into it.
25. And you judge them. HELL, NO.
26. In fact, whenever you and a friend disagree about a book you secretly wonder what is wrong with them:
I would wonder what was wrong with someone who actually did this.
27. You've vowed to convert a non-reader into a reader:
No, I don't tilt at windmills. If it's going to happen, it'll happen with or without me.
28. And you've succeeded: n/a
29. You've attended book readings, launches, and signings: Yes.
30. You own several signed books:
Many! I even use "autographed" as a tag on LibraryThing.
31. You would recognize your favorite authors on the street:
Some of them, because I know them socially from cons.
32. In fact, you have: If you include "at a con", yes.
33. If you could have dinner with anybody in the world, you'd choose your favorite writer:
Maybe. Still stiff competition from Howard Shore, though.
34. You own a first-edition book: A few.
35. You know what that is and why it matters to bibliophiles:
It's about rarity and historical interest. And bragging rights, for some of them.
36. You tweet, post, blog, or talk about books every day: No.
37. You have a "favorite" literary prize:
I take more interest in the Hugos than I do in other prizes, but I'm not sure that translates into "favorite".
38. And you read the winners of that prize every year:
Not necessarily -- even for the Hugos!
39. You've recorded every book you've ever read and what you thought of it:
I try to keep up-to-date with entering books into LibraryThing, but that's partly to make sure I don't re-buy a book that's on my TBR stack. Sometimes I write reviews, but I don't feel compelled to do so.
40. You have a designated reading nook in your home:
Not really. Mostly I read either at the table while eating, or in my favorite chair, but I don't think of them as "reading nooks".
41. You have a literary-themed T-shirt, bag, tattoo, or item of home décor: Yes.
42. You gave your pet a literary name:
Of the current pride, Grey Mouser, Sunfall (of Ennien), Spike (from the Toby Daye books), and arguably Loki and Kitsune are literary-related; Spot, Winnie, and Catgirl aren't.
43. You make literary references and puns nobody else understands:
Yes, and usually my friends understand them.
44. You're a stickler for spelling and grammar, even when you're just texting:
Mostly. In casual writing I'll allow myself some leeway, and I don't beat myself up over the occasional typo.
45. You've given books as gifts for every occasion:
Every type of occasion, probably. But not every single one of any type.
46. Whenever someone asks what your favorite book is, your brain goes into overdrive and you can't choose just one.
No. I have "all-time favorite" which doesn't change, and "current favorite" which does. I do sometimes get snarky and respond with, "You want me to pick ONE?" Especially since I like different books for different reasons.
47. You love the smell of books: Meh.
48. You've binge-read an entire series or an author's whole oeuvre in just a few days: Yes.
49. You've actually felt your heart rate go up while reading an incredible book: Probably.
50. When you turn the last page of a good book, you feel as if you've finally come up for air and returned from a great adventure:
Sometimes. When I do, I frequently go back and re-read it immediately.
It turns out that there's no Music AH for Worldcon 75.
I mean, on one level, I'm not shedding any tears over screwups with the convention after they booted me (and the way it was done). But on the other hand, my friends are going to miss out on a lot of the activity they enjoy at the convention because there's nobody put it together.
I am very proud of all of them.
It is unclear whether the dead leaf mantis is named for its tendency to resemble a dead leaf or because he was once an ordinary leaf mantis, full of hopes and dreams, that once made a mistake, one so terrible that he never recovered, dooming him to wander the garden, never again to feel truly alive.
Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
For some reason, there are five teams in the tourney and rather than scheduling things with a seeding round on day one, two of the teams got a bye so that they only had to play two games on the first day; the other three teams would need to play and win three games to advance to the finals. We were one of the other three teams, winning the first two games; then losing the third game to one of the teams with a bye which appears to be a tournament team rather than a team or all-star team from a house league.
But the girls played well overall. And by winning the first two games, we have postponed our first game tomorrow until 3:45. One win will put us into the finals, but then we will have to beat the team that beat us twice in order to win, this being a double elimination tournament, except when it isn't, because it's theoretically quite possible for a team with three losses to get to the finals if we've read the brackets correctly.
As I said, it's a mystery...
This is not an ant. It’s actually a type of wingless wasp.
A wasp, of course, is any insect of the suborder Apocrita that is neither a bee nor an ant.
The suborder Apocrita is made of all insects in the Hymenoptera that have a narrow “waist” (or petiole) formed between the first two segments of the actual abdomen.
This is where it gets fun …
A petiole is sometimes called a pedicel, which is also used for the second segment of an insect’s antennae, which can be confusing. So you’d think most entomologists would use “petiole”, but that gets confusing because that work can also mean the stalk at the base of the nests of paper wasps *and* the situation where a normally four-sided cell in the wing of an insect has only three.
Why did all of this happen? Because of plants. People were studying plants before they were studying bugs and in botany a pedicel is the thin stem that connects a single flower to the inflorescence (cluster of flowers) or to a single fruit to infructescence (cluster of fruits (or fruit-like things)) while a petiole is the thin stalk that connects a leaf to its stem.
Now let’s talk about figs …
Botanically, a fruit is the seed bearing structure in angiosperms that is formed from the ovary. Figs are false fruits, being formed from an inverted inflorescence that, when pollinated, grows into an infructescence. How does this get pollinated, I hear you ask? With wasps!
The fig’s inflorescence is inverted, so the only way they can get pollinated is with wasps that have evolved to match specific fig species. One wasp crawls into each flower, lays its eggs, and dies. The eggs hatch, and the little wasps chew their way out of the fig flower, leaving their mother’s body behind. Now, normally, people get grossed out at this point, as every fig they eat actually contains several wasps … but that’s not the cool part.
Because a fig is a cluster of little false fruits, each false fruit being connected to its infructescence with a pedicel *and* each one containing a wasp, which is distinguished from other insects of Hymenoptera because it has a pedicel, that means that figs, unlike all the other infructescences out there, has twice as many pedicels as you’d expect!
(This is what happens when a photographer who is both a word geek and bio geek isn’t quite tired enough to go to bed yet.)
Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
I've been saving up for this trip for nearly a year, because I wanted to have the experience of taking an overseas trip while I still can. And, sadly, it looks as though not only will this be the only such trip I ever take, but it will probably be the last time I ever fly anywhere at all. The default cabin pressure during flight has been raised from 5,000 feet to 8,000 feet, and at that virtual altitude I have Issues -- to wit, it knocks me off my feet at the other end for the rest of that day and most of the next as well. And that's on a 4-hour flight; I don't want to think about what might happen if I took a trans-Atlantic flight.
My flight out left at 10:35, but (working back) that meant I needed to be at the airport by 8:30, which meant I needed to leave home by 7:30, which meant I needed to get up no later than 6:30. Generous estimates all, but if the choice is between sitting in the waiting area for 2 hours and missing my flight, I'll take the former. And in point of fact, that's how it worked out; I was running early enough that the traffic thru downtown wasn't horrendous, I found the long-term parking lot I intended to use without trouble, and the bag-check and security lines were only 3 or 4 people long.
I had decided that since I was traveling solo, money spent toward making things easier for myself was worthwhile, so I sprang for the Early Check-In option with Southwest. This got me into the A boarding group, which meant that it was easy for me to get a window seat with bin space directly above it for my first carry-on bag. The flight was uneventful. Someone I know had told me that the San Juan airport was "a pit", but either it's been significantly spruced up since she was last there or she has a very different definition from mine; it was a lot like the Nashville airport. I retrieved my checked bag and got a cab to the con hotel (apparently the hotel itself doesn't run a shuttle).
( The con )
- I would doubtless have gone to more of the panels if it hadn't been so goddamn cold on the convention level. I was feeling not really up to snuff all weekend for various reasons, and that made me even less inclined to sit in an ice-cold function room.
- I think this is the first con I've ever been to where I bought nothing from the con itself. There just wasn't that much to buy.
- Also because of not feeling up to snuff, I didn't take very many pictures.
- The streets in Old Town make the ones in the French Quarter look wide! One parking lane and one traffic lane, and you didn't see any SUVs or pickup trucks because there wasn't space for anything larger than a standard sedan to get thru.
- I had taken quite a bit of money with me, and came back with about half of it -- see above about nothing much to buy at the con. The largest chunk of what I spent, aside from the hotel, was on food and cabfare.
- I gave out a few no-Nazi buttons at the con, and two more to employees at the bookstore.
- Puerto Rico is primarily Spanish-speaking. Although everyone I interacted with was bilingual, all the signage outside the hotel was Spanish-only. I was happy to leave the navigation to my taxi drivers!
Bottom line: While I didn't get as much out of the weekend as I might have hoped, I'm still glad I went.
According to Wikipedia, crayfish are also known as crawfish, crawdads, freshwater lobsters, mountain lobsters, mudbugs or yabbies. Taxonomically, we know they’re in the super-families Astacoidea and Parastacoidea. Linguistically, though, it’s a bit messy.
The term “cray” come from the French word “escrevisse”. Because they live in water, people tack on the word “fish”, even though it’s clearly not one of those. Here in America, “Cray” is trademarked*, so the stem-word “craw” is preferred. In the midwest, we know from fishes so we call them “crawdads” instead … apparently our fathers were all lobster-like. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
But wait! It gets even messier. In Singapore, “crayfish” is what they call the slipper lobster, something entirely different … except when it refers to a different species, invasive, which is more commonly known as the Australian red claw crayfish, the Queensland red claw, the redclaw, the tropical blue crayfish, and the freshwater blueclaw crayfish.
Deeper into the linguistic messiness, it appears that in Australia, New Zealand and, oddly, South Africa all these names refer to a type of spiny lobster. With “crawfish” referring to the saltwater version and “yabby” meaning the freshwater species … unless they’re talking about some different species, the Tasmanian giant freshwater crayfish or the Murray crayfish.
And this, my friends, is why biologists have to rename everything in Latin.
* This may not actually be the reason
Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
Now I just need to figure out what book to read next. :)