Saturday, December 29, 2007

Lucky I had that quarter

So, I'm at blockbuster renting the 1st two Pirates of the Caribbean movies (the third is available on PPV). The total rental fee comes to $5.25. I give the guy $20.25. He punches in $50.25 by mistake.

Uh oh. What now? How can he possibly make correct change now?

Several minutes of blank staring and inactivity ensue.

Oh, thank Todd! There's a calculator on hand. 20.25 - 5.25 = 15.00

Disaster averted.

How did people ever do this sort of thing without cash registers or calculators? Are you kidding me? Give me a freaking break.

I guess I should have used a credit card instead.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Circus of the Spineless #28

The latest edition of the Circus of the Spineless is up and running over at Catalogue of Organisms. Head on over for all sorts of invertebrate fun.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I never knew

Litmus, the stuff of pH paper, comes from lichens.

How was this discovered?

Can lichens themselves be used to measure pH? If so, how come Les Stroud or Bear Grylls haven't taught us this yet?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Species naming rights

I'm not a taxonomist. I have never been involved in the discovery, description, or naming of a new species. Or even in the renaming of a species once considered something else. So, I really don't know the logistics of providing a name to a species.

I know that species are named for what they look like, where they are found, who discovered them, or in honor of someone else. I don't know the official rules of the game or even if there are official rules, but I never once would have thought that someone could buy the rights to a species name.

Well, that's what seems to be happening according to a story out of Scripps. Apparently, Scripps has a collection of new species that need to be named and has decided to use this as a fund-raising tool. They've got "an orange, speckled nudibranch, a hydrothermal vent worm, two types of worms found living on deep-sea whale bones, and several new species discovered in local La Jolla waters" all up for grabs. Naming rights start at $5,000.

I'm not sure I like this idea. Sure, they're raising money for the preservation of their specimen collection - something that I think is incredibly important, especially at a time where it seems natural history has been given a cold shoulder by "hard science" disciplines. However, the idea of commercializing this scientific process does not sit well with me. Maybe Scripps has a set of rules that must be followed and perhaps I'm being anachronistic, but do we really want to open the door to things like Polycera fedexii or Nereis walmartia?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Winter Garden

A cold front bringing a "wintery mix" came through here this past weekend, leaving a coating of ice on everything. I grabbed these shots this morning before work before everything could melt away. Compare to the shots of the garden a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I'm a somebody

That's right, I'll no longer be wallowing in obscurity, now that I've been found by Montclair Publishing. Just check out this email I got:

Faculty Member at [email redacted],

It is my pleasure to inform you that you are being considered for inclusion in

"Who's Who in Collegiate Faculty" (2008/2009 Edition)

which is an exclusive section of Montclair Publishing's "Who's Who Among Executives and Professionals."

This upcoming national hardcover publication and website directory from Montclair Publishing LLC, was launched in 2007. Students, faculty, and staff members alike are helping to nominate the finest educators from schools throughout the United States and Canada.

Our goal is to recognize individuals for their commitment to and influence on teaching. There is no fee for publication.

If you are interested in being a part of our national publication, spend thirty seconds filling out your basic application below

I'm sure this nomination was very highly considered and that this is clearly a sign of accolades and success to come.