Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Dial Stopper

Not sure why this song popped into my head today, but it did, so here you go...


So, I'm eating breakfast at the hotel in D.C. last week and I see on CNN (or MSNBC or Fox or *insert cable news channel*) that there was going to be an "evangelical rally" on the Mall that day. Turns out The Call was in town. Great.

So, the kids and I take the metro down to the Mall and sure enough we're bombarded by pamphleteers as we leave the metro stop. I managed to fend off the hoard without taking a single "You're going to burn in hell" flyer/newspaper/brochure. As we move away from the crowd I see a monstrosity of a stage set up by the Capitol - it looked like a Def Leppard concert (no offense to Def Leppard) - and we hear someone on stage yelling and carrying on about something. Honestly, I have no idea what the guy was saying, but the tone and rhythm sent chills down my spine - it's hard to explain, but it was some combination of anger, insanity, and overacting (I hate to suggest this, but check out the video on the right side of the Call's website I linked to above to hear what I mean). I suppose, unsurprisingly, evangelical is the best word to describe it. The guy could have been reading directly from Isaac Newton's Principia and it would have sounded just as scary-insane.

Actually, now that I think about it, the whole thing reminded me of something like this

So, what did the kids and I do? Walked straight across the Mall to the Museum of Natural History, of course, and took part in, among many other things, the Mammal Family Reunion.

Run away! Run Away!

Lincoln Memorial

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

D.C. Vacation

The whole fam damily is headed to D.C. for a few days of vacation before the school year starts up again. Here's a short list of things we'll hopefully be getting to:

  • National Aquarium in Baltimore

  • National Zoo

  • Smithsonian Natural History Museum

  • various monuments (Emma really wants to see the one with "Abraham Lincoln sitting down")

  • The White House (as opposed to say, a beach volleyball match in Beijing)

  • I'm open to other suggestions if you've got them (remember, we'll be dealing with a 4- and 7-year old). Em heard from a friend who heard from a friend that the Spy Museum was fun - anyone have first-hand experience and care to corroborate this?

    Big Bugs!

    A couple photos from our visit to the Big Bugs exhibit at The Garden in the Woods:

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    Home grown

    Our second (and last) "Sugar Baby" watermelon from the garden. The first was picked too early. This one was excellent even though it could have ripened another couple of days I think - except for the fact that some critter (squirrel? chipmunk?) was starting to nibble on the rind. Better to eat it a bit early than risk losing it completely!

    Friday, August 08, 2008

    Friday Dial Stopper - Anniversary Edition

    Tomorrow is Linda's and my 10-year wedding anniversary. Yes, I said 10 years. We've actually known each other for 16 years - since our first year at Bowdoin. In 16 years, we've helped each other through the good and the bad of our undergraduate years, med/graduate school in Iowa (yes, I said, Iowa), residency, two kids, living on the Hopi Indian Reservation, my numerous "career" changes, two George W. Bush terms (no good, all bad), and countless family crises (large and small, real and imagined) and celebrations (often one and the same depending on your point of view). We drive each other crazy, we keep each other sane. If that makes sense to you, you "get it", much like Billy Idol...

    Ti amo, mia lumaca!

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    Thursday, August 07, 2008

    That's a lot of gorillas!

    In some exciting conservation news that almost slipped me by (a hearty thanks to "the Naner" for pointing it out to me), researchers have discovered a new population of critically-endangered western lowland gorillas in the Republic of Congo. The estimate of 125,000 individuals (!), based on the number of "nests" observed in the 47,000 km2 area, is more than double the previous estimate for the number of these gorillas in the wild.

    At first I thought the 125,000 number must be a mistake - I would have thought finding 30 gorillas was a big deal. But then I read that these gorillas were found in the swamps of equatorial Africa in a remote part of the Congo, so I can understand why they hadn't been found before. Just thinking about their location gives me malarial chills...

    Read more here...

    Watch a video of the gorilla discovery here...

    Tuesday, August 05, 2008

    Not your ordinary mollusc

    While going through my regular evening ritual of perusing the sites on my blogroll (I always start at the bottom and work my way up for some reason - I don't really know why), I came across the latest post by Emile over at The World We Don't Live In. This post is about the ever-so-rare phenomenon of vertebrates mimicking invertebrates. Now, while that is an interesting topic in its own right, what struck me as absolutely fascinating was the mention of a creature I had no idea even existed - the Indonesian mimic octopus, Thaumoctopus mimicus. (note: the creature is absolutely fascinating, not the fact that I had not heard of it - though I am surprised that such a critter had escaped my attention until now).

    The video below does a good job of showing off this incredible quick-change artist. I'm starting to see why so many people think molluscs are so damn cool.

    Friday, August 01, 2008

    Friday Dial Stopper: Poster Printing Edition

    Well, here I sit finishing up the poster printing I started yesterday. Of course, the process isn't frustration-free today either:

    1) I met the IT guy at the room so he could let me in and log me onto the computer. He shows up and says "I hope the door isn't locked, that's the one key I don't have". Wah!? Now remember, this is the same guy that let me in yesterday (he had a key then), the same guy I talked to on the phone 15 minutes ago and who told me to meet him here so he could unlock the door for me, and the same guy who called security yesterday to come and lock up the room (oh, just to cover all bases, this is the same room as it was yesterday). Of course the friggin' room is locked. As my grandmother says (surprisingly) "Jesus, Mary and Joseph!" I shouldn't be surprised though since this is also the same guy who was "hoping" no one needed the regular printer this summer.

    2) The IT guy finds someone with the key. Once inside I realize that the roll of paper I left on the printer is no longer there - it's been swapped out with smaller, cheaper stuff. My roll is nowhere in the room. WTF!! Luckily, the guy with the key had some ideas where it might be and after searching through about 5 different rooms we found it in a storage closet on the other side of the building. So much for being out of here in a couple of hours.

    So, today's dial stopper is fitting. Just change the words in the chorus from 'I' to 'IT' (as in Information Technology) and it's perfect:

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    Addendum: 1:30pm - Three posters (from the same lab) failed to include a faculty co-author. Guess who's reprinting three posters?