Why it had to be rats in 1984

Don’t do it to Julia!  Do it to me!

from our friends at ihasahotdog.com

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Yay!

Simon made another cat video!

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Birth announcement: Wayward baby gerbils

The last of Arbourist‘s classroom gerbils passed away this spring, after a long (for a gerbil) and pampered life.  The empty cage made us sad, so Arb’s friend, who manages a pet store, found us a new pair of young gerbils.  There may have been a bit of self-interest involved, since she’s been having trouble with her gerbil supplier, and she got us a male and a female.  They’ve been very cute and curious and busy.  It turns out they’ve been busy with more than renovations. 

A handsome black and white male gerbil named Neo.  I did not choose the name.

A handsome black and white male gerbil named Neo. I did not choose the name.

We didn’t know they’d had babies until Arb picked up their little house while he was cleaning the habitat, and there was a little nest with four babies. They must have been there for a while because they already had fur at that point. They’re like a little Punnett Square: three pale grey like Mom, and one black like Dad, all of them with white markings like Dad’s, although they’re harder to see on the light-coloured ones. Except that it would only work if both parents were heterozygous for that colour locus, and if you look at the phenotypes it’s clear they can’t have the same colour genotype.   They do seem to be working on another litter, though, so statistics will continue to be collected.

An elegant pale-grey female gerbil named Trinity.  I did not choose this name either.

An elegant pale-grey female gerbil named Trinity. I did not choose this name either.

In the last couple days, even though their eyes aren’t open, the babies have started getting out of the nest and wandering around. Both parents are very busy grabbing babies and stuffing them back into the nest, since they’re outnumbered two to one. They’ve tried to build a wall of fluff to keep the babies in, but it’s not working so well.  Lots more pictures after the break.  Continue reading

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An Interesting Experiment which I Shall Not Attempt to Replicate

DIY science is not only a time-honoured tradition, it can also be a lot of fun. Anne Corwin, of Felines are Wonderful recently read about an experiment testing feline intelligence that concluded cats are pretty dumb. Anne actually paid the journal to be able to read the article. (Side note: having to pay to read journal articles is a big peeve of mine. Science should be for everybody, ya know? DIY and all that?)

She hypothesized that the design of the experimental setup worked against cats’ natural behaviours, and with a more species-appropriate setup, the cats would be able to solve the puzzles. Since Anne, besides being a cat person, is also an engineer, and is good at building things, she set about replicating the experiment (with some modifications) with her own cats. Things didn’t always work quite perfectly, as she shows in this video:

Her full report, with more photos and video, is here. It turns out, when things are set up so that a cat doesn’t fail just for using normal cat sensory modalities and doing normal cat behaviours, cats are plenty smart.

If I had the time – or the energy in the time I have – I would be all over DIY science too. But not in the following case: Does Drinking Beer Increase Your Attractiveness to Mosquitos? (Full text of the study here.)

Die mosquito

Mosquito biting. Photo by Flickr user Kozzmen

Continue reading

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An almost perfect day

I started it off wrong by staying up way too late watching really bad movies the night before. Still, when I woke up bright and early Saturday morning, I felt pretty good.   Probably because my stint of car-deprivation was going to be relieved by driving the Arbourist to work so I could use his car for the day. Yay!

I started my lovely day of independence and freedom by taking myself out for breakfast. Which was lovely, until

A big black beetle

A Junebug (image from the Oklahoma Biological Survey)

 appeared out of nowhere and landed on my neck.  A big one. Continue reading

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Making my day on the QEII

As the Arbourist mentioned, on our drive home from BC we witnessed some fairly serious consequences of driving like an asshat. Besides the debris from a multiple-fatality accident, there was the couple standing next to an embankment at a sharp curve, looking deeply chagrined, surrounded by police vehicles and a solitary tow truck. The only sign of the couple’s vehicle was the tow truck’s winch line disappearing over the edge.

And then there was the guy who totally made our day. Continue reading

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What white guy do you write like?

Apparently, when I complain all me-me-me-ish:

I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

When I’m serious:

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

My narratives:

I write like
William Gibson

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

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