Archive for February 2012
It was a leap day twenty years ago–roughly to the time this post is scheduled to go up–that I met my wife. Ogden Dining Hall at Miami University had continuous meal service. This was handy for me. My schedule was such that I really didn’t get a crack at lunch until mid-afternoon. However, I could catch lunch there early–right when they switched over from breakfast.
I also was able to meet up with a woman I met, who lived in the residence part of Ogden. She would go for breakfast (right before the cut-over) with her roommate. Eventually, I married the roommate. Of course, we didn’t even date for almost ten months; it was six years before we got married. The alumni association calls us (and others who met at our University) “Miami Mergers.”
In any case, it’s a happy mini-anniversery (which doesn’t come up too often for us). I have now known my wife for twenty years–half my life. There are very few people (outside of my family) I know and deal with regularly who I’ve known longer. Quite a thing to think about.
Last March, we went to the Chattanooga Zoo to see their snow leopard cub. She was later named Renji, and is about 14 months old now. You remember her:
On Monday, there was exciting news. As part of a Species Survival Plan, she has been paired with Nubo, a male snow leopard from New Jersey, to breed. This is exciting, because, quite simply, the world needs more of this endangered cat. As few as 3,500 may remain in the wild. What is exciting to me is that they will be doing so in the Cincinnati Zoo, presumably as part of the new Cat Canyon. As you may expect, there will be lots of pictures.
Don’t you think it’s great, Renji?
Maybe she’s just resting up for it.
Apologies to my twitter peeps, who heard all about this already.
Sunday is a good time to catch up on your sleep.
It’s hard work being a kitten!
On a visit to IKEA a few months ago, I came across a selection of A4 and A5 notebooks called Anständig. These ran $2 and $1, respectively, and as of my last visit (maybe a month ago), there was still a stack in their West Chester, Ohio store. I bought an A4 notebook to see how it compared.
This notebook seems to follow the trend started by Moleskine and perfected by Rhodia: a simple notebook with an elastic strap to keep it closed. There are three immediately obvious differences. First, it has a spiral rather than “book” binding. For a journal, I prefer the book binding, but find a spiral binding more practical for work. The spiral binding provides the option of folding the notebook back on itself, allowing for easier writing while standing, and taking up less room at a conference table. Second, the cover is simple cardboard rather than leather-like. Finally, it lacks the rear pocket.
They only offer an unlined option. The demo models had a plastic sheet with heavy printed lines punched to “clip” in the spiral binding. This would allow lines to show through the paper–a solution I’ve implemented on my own unlined notebooks. As you might expect, it isn’t quite as high quality as Rhodia, though I find the paper better than Moleskine.
There is a bit of feathering with wet inks, but it is only significant on a 1921 Parker Lucky Curve, my broadest, wettest fountain pens. Bleed-through was much better than the Moleskine. Aside from the Sharpies (which I kinda expected), it’s the Lucky Curve that comes through, and then much less than the Moleskine.
My main quibble is the elastic strap. It is rounded rather than flat, making a small dent in the journal. Further, the anchors are not covered, and able to push in and out.
This left a dent in the last page. For $2, I can live without the last page (usually, I’m moving on to a new notebook).
Overall, I like the Anständig better than Moleskine, but not as well as other notebooks I’ve used. However, for the price, it is a very interesting alternative. It’s certainly good for a semi-disposable notebook, or for one to give to a child getting their feet (or fingers wet in fountain pens.
Alan Turing is better known for his contributions to cryptography, efforts which ultimately resulted in the modern computer. What I wasn’t aware of was that he also made contributions to the field of biology.
Turing had a hypothesis regarding how the pattern of tigers’ stripes are formed. He thought a pair of morphogens, molecules responsible for tissue formation, controlled the pattern–an activator and an inhibitor. With the activator, a stripe is formed; with the inhibitor, a blank spot. Turning these on and off make the stripes. This repeating pattern can be found in a number of places in nature.
This was unproven until recently, scientists at King’s College in London performed experiments with the ridges in the roof of the mouths of mice. By manipulating these morphogens, they were able to control the pattern of the ridges, and, in turn, prove Turing’s theory.
Seen in a conference room…No one is quite sure what “SE” is, but the solution does have broad applicability.
When I was last at the zoo, one of the cougars, Joseph, was close to the front of his enclosure.
I thought it was an opportunity to take a picture with him. I set up my camera on a GorillaPod, and waited for the crowd to die down. My first attempt was aimed too low–I got a great shot of my goate.
The crowds came back. Typical of things I heard (especially to small children):
- “Look at the big kitty.”
- “It’s a cheetah!”
- “Do you think that’s bigger than Fluffy?”
- “It’s a lion!”
- “I think Rex is bigger.”
- “It’s a tiger!”
- “I think he wants to eat you.”
Actually, what I found interesting was that at least two people told stories of encounters with them in the wild. It must have been both frightening and amazing!
My second window came, but I didn’t have many windows between waves of people before Joseph went to pester his brother. My aim was better, but I couldn’t time the right shot with the cat.
After Joseph left, I went to take a picture by myself.
What happens when one of your people is from Louisiana…
Throw me something, mister!
Perhaps it’s been happening for a while. My desk is by an east-facing window, so, during certain times of the year, the Sun is right in my eyes. With the building of Queen City Square, it’s become twice as bad, as the reflection of the setting sun hits me again. Writing off tired eyes as glare-related is easy.
I turned fourty, and, a few months later, I noticed occasionally having to move things a bit further back to read them clearly. I made a mental note to see an eye doctor, though I don’t think the promise was that sincere.
But this year seemed worse. Then, I was issued a new laptop around Thanksgiving. Perhaps that’s what triggered it. As December wore on, I found myself coming home with more and more headaches. They seemed to start earlier and earlier in the day. A few hours of not looking at screens or books (cooking supper, eating supper, etc.), and it went away, only to start to return with my pulling out my personal laptop. After the first of the year, I decided to actually schedule the appointment.
There were no appointments for four weeks. I didn’t think it an emergency, so I dealt with it. As the four weeks wore, I actively looked forward to the eye appointment–something had to provide relief. By the time I was getting to the bus in the evening, I just wanted to sit with my eyes closed.
The scheduled appointment arrived. I checked my new insurer’s web site–the eye doctor was listed. However, it turns out actual eye care was handled by a different company, that the doctor didn’t take. It was rather confusing, but I went with it. I scheduled an appointment for the weekend (about a week ago, as I write this) with a different optometrist.
I was diagnosed with an astigmatism, and given a prescription. I spent some time picking out a new pair of glasses, having very little to go on.
I’m actually amazed at the difference. The prescription is quite mild, and I can read without it for a quick glance. However, after a week of eight-to-five (or more) at work, plus any reading at home, and the difference is dramatic. I no longer have headaches at the end of the day–I don’t feel the need to revert to a near-ludite state when I get home. This makes me happy, as I can do some of the things I loved doing (such as putting up blog posts about wild cats). However, it definitely is a sign of getting older, which makes me a bit sad.
It happens to all of us, I guess.
It’s been a mild winter in Cincinnati, and yesterday was a particularly lovely day. My wife and daughter had a four-day weekend that I didn’t so they were out of town. I decided to visit the zoo right at opening, to catch the Night Hunters in day phase.
I did get some good pictures of fishing cats.
Do you think my mentioning sushi to them caught their attention?
I’m always amazed with their eyes.
I’m not the least bit surprised they like to play in water.
I wanted to try different settings on the camera, and some new software to process it, to see if I can get better pictures during night phase. While not as good as full light, I think the outcome is not bad.
The bobcat was very interested in what I was doing, standing right at the front of his enclosure.
Another handsome cat!
There are fennec foxes next door to the fishing cats. I’m not sure what they were looking at.
The caracal was just relaxing.
The one of the reasons the lights are still on is that the keepers are puttering around–a few enclosures are being cleaned. The sand cat was up and close to the glass.
Why? There is a door right across from their enclosure the keepers went in and out of. Presumably with their breakfast!
The black-footed cat just glared at me…
I swear I didn’t do anything to upset him!
The clouded leopard was up, saying, “OH HAI!” Clouded leopards are moving up my list of favorite cats.
The pallas cat is native to central Asia. I know many who follow this blog are fans.
They are roughly the same size as a house cat, though a lot…fuzzier. They also have longer tails to help provide balance as they climb over the mountainous terrain.
The Cincinnati Zoo is known for its conservation efforts, particularly for small wild cats. Their Center for Conservation and Research for Endangered Wildlife performs research into efforts to protect species. Last summer, they were able to have the first Pallas cat kittens born though artificial insemination. I walked back to their area for the first time yesterday. I didn’t see the kittens (their enclosure was marked–they might have been in some of the places set up for them to hide). Their parents, however, were quite visible.
So very fuzzy!
As I walked away from CREW, I heard the lion!
Humans sleep with teddy bears. A polar bear demonstrates what bears sleep with.
The wolves certainly enjoyed the sunny day.
I also spent a good chuck of time watching the cougars.
They are also known as pumas, mountain lions, Florida panther, catamount, shadow cat, 10.1, red tiger, deercat, mountain devil, king cat, Mexican lion, mountain screamer, silver lion, sneak cat, and, most recently, 10.8.
When I looked through my photos, I was amazed not at how many I took (I often take hundreds), but how many different animals I got good pictures of. In particular, I took a lot of pictures I normally don’t take pictures of. I developed a new appreciation for Pallas cats, and enjoyed a great day.