Saturday, October 26, 2013

Back To Cat Swamp

Went for a long walk at the Ward Reservation in Andover, MA:

Rocks showing in roots of an overturned Tree.
A strangely contorted Tree.
Close-up of strangely contorted Tree.
Very large Stone showing in roots of an overturned Tree.
Walkway across Swamp.
Large rock outcropping by edge of Swamp.
Attempting to show the Dam from below.
Grass and moss growing on log appearing to float in Swamp.
Another fallen Tree with a large Rock clutched in its roots.
Closer-up -- kind of looks like a face.
Green grow the Rushes, O!
Still walking through the Rushes, O.
Close-up of large rock in the roots of an overturned Tree.
Large Rock caught in the roots of an overturned Tree.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Oooh, Scary!

Some people are really into Halloween.  I was out biking between North Andover and Georgetown when I spotted these inflatables on Ipswich Road in Boxboro:

The coach had been blown over onto its side, so I went up into the yard to set it upright. I was standing there, in my Bike Clothes, taking pictures, when a Mini-Van pulled into the driveway. A woman got out with a very questioning look on her face. She was worried that I might be an unhappy neighbor who did not approve of her decorations. I assured her that I was only taking pictures because I did approve. In fact, I had originally noticed the Coach last year, but was never able to get a picture. She then told me that her kids loved the inflatables, but were only allowed to pick out one new one each year.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Urt Seluurt Zavi

The entire Mongolian Rowing Association (all two of them) is in town for the Head of the Charles Regatta. According to an interesting story in today's Boston Globe, there is no name for "Rowing" in Mongolian, so they had to make one up: Urt Seluurt Zavi, or "Long Oar Boating". Also, there is nowhere near Ulaan Baatar for them to practice, so their experience has consisted of going to Community Rowing here for the past two or so weeks. When one of them tried to explain to his Mom about signing up for the Head of the Charles, she said, "Oh, just like the Jamaican Bobsledders in the Olympics!"

(Photo courtesy Lane Turner/Globe Staff)


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Zombies vs. Animals

According to a misguided article on Boingboing.Net, the Living Dead wouldn't stand a chance against Animals. Now, I'm not at all a fan of Zombie Shows, or of the very idea of zombies. To be honest, they give me the creeps. But when I read this, I had to say, "Now, wait just a minute. This isn't right--it's clearly a case of someone riding on their hobbyhorse." In the article,  National Wildlife Federation naturalist David Mizejewski explains how he thinks nature would deal with a zombie outbreak: brutally, and without quarter. Where he goes off the rails is his wanting to specify that zombies are merely walking carrion. Sorry, but I am not buying it. It is like saying that the Late Roman Empire could have easily defeated the invading Barbarian Hordes, if only all of the Barbarians had casts on their legs.
First is the problem of whatever causes Zombification. If it's a pathogen that can instantly infect an attack victim, why couldn't it infect an animal that bites or eats a part of a Zombie? Any condition that could accidently produce an organism that can simultaneously hijack the Human Body and Brain, could just as easily produce ones that would affect animals.
If the causative agent was artificially produced in a laboratory, early versions of it would no doubt be tailored for and tested on animals. If you were evil enough to do something like this, you'd quickly realize that it would be easier and more economical (and frightening) to just infect animals and let them do all of the attacking. Even simpler, then, would be to produce a sort of super-Rabies that was fast-acting but didn't quickly kill the host.
Second, even if the cause of Zombification was strictly human-specific, and could neither infect any other creature (down to the microscopic) nor mutate, there are still two major objections.
Problem A is the motility issue. Birds in general are serious motion detectors, and Carrion Birds don't go after things that are still moving. Crows and ravens might, along with coyotes and bears, etc., but that would only be in the case of a very slow moving and isolated Zombie. Ones moving around in groups would be safe from carrion eaters. It is not known whether Zombies sleep or have rest periods, so it can't be posited that there would be times that they weren't moving, and would be just lying or sitting on the ground motionless where they could be easily accessed by bacteria, fungi, molds, and spores, or carrion-seeking insects.
Problem B is the question of what Zombie flesh would even smell or taste like. Given infection by some pathogen that caused the flesh to be alive and dead at the same time, Zombies might not be attractive to carrion seekers, or might even actively repel them. They might also be poisonous and kill anything besides another Human that bit them.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Two Words

...that can make the Strongest Heart quail: Oral Surgery.

Day Two: Chipmunk Cheeks.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sinead O'Connor

[From the Book of Faces, Oct. 3:
James Houlahan I'm about to write an open letter to Pope Francis about Amanda Palmer's open letter in response to Sinead O'Connor's open letter to Miley Cyrus.]

Speaking of Sinead O'Connor: in all the years that I watched Saturday Night Live, there were only two musical acts that received what I felt was an authentic response. The first was George Thorogood, after his "Bad to the Bone"; he ripped it up, and the crowd justifiably went wild. The second was O'Connor after she ripped up a picture of the Pope. In that case, the crowd was dead silent--as opposed to the usual automatic (and thus unearned and meaningless) applause.