Traveling off and on again, and A Prayer to Talk to Animals by Nickole Brown

I’m out and about on and off for the next…four months! I’m sure I’ll do some blogging in that time, but in the near future I’ll be camping, so won’t have internet access.

Meanwhile enjoy these cephalopods because I love them*
http://i.imgur.com/CrSsR5m.gifv

Also, please remember how adorable hummingbirds are (also this).

And this poem:
A Prayer to Talk to Animals

Lord, I ain’t asking to be the Beastmaster

gym-ripped in a jungle loincloth

or a Doctor Dolittle or even the expensive vet

down the street, that stethoscoped redhead,

her diamond ring big as a Cracker Jack toy.

All I want is for you to help me flip

off this lightbox and its scroll of dread, to rip

a tiny tear between this world and that, a slit

in the veil, Lord, one of those old-fashioned peeping

keyholes through which I can press my dumb

lips and speak. If you will, Lord, make me the teeth

hot in the mouth of a raccoon scraping

the junk I scraped from last night’s plates,

make me the blue eye of that young crow cocked to

me—too selfish to even look up from the black

of my damn phone. Oh, forgive me, Lord,

how human I’ve become, busy clicking

what I like, busy pushing

my cuticles back and back to expose

all ten pale, useless moons. Would you let me

tell your creatures how sorry

I am, let them know exactly

what we’ve done? Am I not an animal

too? If so, Lord, make me one again.

Give me back my dirty claws and blood-warm

horns, braid back those long-

frayed endings of every nerve tingling

with all I thought I had to do today.

Fork my tongue, Lord. There is a sorrow on the air

I taste but cannot name. I want to open

my mouth and know the exact

flavor of what’s to come, I want to open

my mouth and sound a language

that calls all language home.

– Nickole Brown

*Wordpress will no longer play gifs on my blog, so grr…but until I think of something better, you’ll have to just click the link.

Madera Canyon, Arizona

Madera Canyon
Madera Canyon
Madera Canyon

Once I got to looking at my carpenter bee photos yesterday, I realized there were a whole bunch of things I neglected to post about my Arizona trip a couple of years ago. That’s probably true of most of the things I intend to post but then forget to actually write up. Oh well! It’s fun to stumble on them later, even if I don’t remember all the things I would have said.

Madera Canyon
Madera Canyon

There’s actually a fun story associated with this campsite. My friend and I rented a car and did a camping circuit of Arizona in 2015 over the course of about six days, and we saw just about all the different habitats and ecotones the state has to offer! We kind of shot ourselves in the foot, though, because we alternated from high to low alitutde each night, and never really adjusted to changes in weather and temperature (it was cold camping in the mountains, and boiling hot camping in the desert).

Madera Canyon
Madera Canyon

But we decided to camp in Madera Canyon in our last night* because it was close to Tucson, where my friend was flying out of the next morning. Because we were about to fly home, we had already returned all the camping gear we had borrowed, which meant we had no sleeping bags, nothing to keep us warm. We had also had no difficulty making a fire each night to this point because the wood had been dry as a bone, but up in Madera Canyon, everything was damp and cold.

Madera Canyon
Madera Canyon

I remember we had only four matches left, and we were desperately trying to get the fire started on damp wood, but the wind was blowing. I stood by, holding up a shirt to block the wind, while my friend crouched and struck our last match, trying to get it to light the wood. Of course, we weren’t in *such* dire straits, as when we ultimately failed at this attempt, I just begged a couple of matches off nearby campers.

Madera Canyon
Madera Canyon

That night we spread every article of clothing we had out in the tent trying to make it warm enough to sleep, but we still spent most of the night shivering. Well, it wasn’t the first and it surely won’t be the last time I spent a night shivering in a tent. Adventures! If I had the chance, I would camp here again, but I would be better prepared. 😀

Madera Canyon
Madera Canyon
Madera Canyon

*Hence all of these photos are either dawn or dusk haha

Carpenter Bee Nest (Arizona)

A recent post on the blog Adventuresinbeeland reminded me of a carpenter bee nest that we dissected in Arizona…two years ago! I could have sworn I already posted about this, but I couldn’t find a record in my blog posts, so here it is now.

Carpenter Bee nests
This carpenter bee (Now it’s been two years, I’ve forgotten which species of Xylocopa this is!) nests inside the flowering stalks of the century plant (Agave americana). They can get incredibly tall (up to 9 meters or 30 ft).
Carpenter Bee nests
There’s the entrance to the nest
Carpenter Bee nests
Cracking open the stalk
Carpenter Bee nests
Female bee buzzing angrily about us disturbing her
Carpenter Bee nests
Different stages of development
Carpenter Bee nests
A closer look at some stages…the pale one is a pupa, metamorphosing from juvenile to adult. Metamorphosis is a fascinatin’ process that I should spend more time gushing about.
Carpenter Bee nests
A younger pupa (the eyes haven’t turned black yet)
Carpenter Bee nests
A 3-d printed model of a pupa used for teaching
Carpenter Bee nests
Big ol fat pollen sausage (larva)

Invasive, but adorable, grey squirrels

http://i.imgur.com/rZ84RGB.gifv

Can I just say, without any implications, that the Irish way of saying squirrel is adorable? One of my Irish friends said it yesterday and I had to fight not to tell him it was adorable because he was being very serious about this nasty invasive pest. Squee-rell.

Grey Squirrels

People hate the grey squirrels because they are driving down populations of the native red (adorable) squirrel. The main problem with the grey squirrels is that they carry a pox that the native squirrels have no resistance to (see American chestnuts), but they also compete for resources and habitat. They also strip bark from trees.

Grey Squirrels

Also, similar to the European Starling in the US, a small population was introduced at the beginning of the 1900’s and they have since colonized the entire country.

Grey Squirrels

I have to say, even in the US where they are native, we prefer our red squirrels. But I still like these nasty, invasive, aerial acrobats (tree rats as my dad would call them).

Reference video:

Links to Share

Saw this first hand when I was in Kenya earlier this year where brutal droughts are devastating the country. It’s very sad because many people don’t have another way to live. The farmers in Kenya were more ready to discuss climate change with me than suburbanites in Pennsylvania…: As The Climate Changes, Kenyan Herders Find Centuries-Old Way Of Life In Danger

Okay, time for some puppy love: Puppy patrol! Adorable puppies join police force

Scientific citations and facebook likes have the same degree distribution (open access)! Neat! But also…is science just a big popularity contest? If yes, I don’t do well at those: Science and Facebook: The same popularity law!

I like Jessica Williams a lot and NPR did a fun little interview with her: Comic Jessica Williams On ‘The Daily Show’ And Learning To ‘Never Be Average’

Surprisingly good advice column (not that I dislike advice columns per se, but this one expands into something broader and more general that I really enjoyed): Ask Polly: It Seems Like My Friends Don’t Like Me

This is new! You shouldn’t necessarily take the full course of antibiotics if you’re feeling better. I was always taught that it was essential to do so (and just completed a penicillin course for strep). Interesting and important for the battle against antibiotic resistance (PS I just had weird deja vu about this…did I already post this article??): Rule that patients must finish antibiotics course is wrong, study says

A very interesting discussion of the morality of direct and indirect mortality of insects, a topic that I have spent a great deal of time considering! Missing from this moral discussion is the morality of killing insects to learn more about them. Where does scientific inquiry fall on the line of morality? I’ve seen people complain about pouring molten aluminium into ant nests, when they do not hesitate to pour poison down ant nests. At least we can learn from metal casts of nests… What if Klein & Barron are right about insect sentience?

Interesting Irish etymology and what remains of it: Collops and fíbíns: The lost language of Ireland’s landscape
EDIT: Now that I think about this, it reminds me of curglaff… maybe the Irish need cute and charismatic animals to act out their words to preserve them. 🙂

The monastic city at Glendalough

The old joke goes that in Europe, we consider 100 miles to be a long way and in the US, we consider 100 years to be a long time. When you live in Europe, you get used to tripping over castles from the 12th century on a regular basis.

In Glendalough, there are the remains of an old monastic city, many of the buildings were dated back to *at least* the 12th century, some are probably much older than that. It’s the kind of time line that boggles the mind of someone who’s used to the oldest buildings dating back to the 18th century.

glendalough monastic city
glendalough monastic city
glendalough monastic city
glendalough monastic city
glendalough monastic city
glendalough monastic city
Tried my standard tree shot on a tower…went okay, I think 😀
glendalough monastic city
glendalough monastic city
glendalough monastic city
glendalough monastic city
glendalough monastic city
glendalough monastic city
glendalough monastic city
glendalough monastic city