Up north

It’s the time of year when I load the dogs up and head north of the notches (that part of NH on the north side of the White Mountains). Some photos, with commentary:


A pano of one of my favorite views. Not a good cover, but we just left one and this is much easier walking – a chance for Dinah and me to relax a bit.

White Baneberry

Berries! A not-good-to-eat one, White Baneberry


and a quite tasty (if sour) one, the Cranberry.

And of course, humans leave their mark.


A pile of rock with toys and a worn-out whirligig on top – I’m guessing a grave. Pet? I hope so.

crab trash

And I’m used to finding piles of trash at the end of tote roads (aka jeep trails) at the point they become impassable, but the debris is usually demolition waste, old teevees, that sort of thing. First time I’ve ever seen a pile of crabs. Thankfully, they’d been there quite a while – Dinah was neither interested in rolling in nor eating them.

Parrots as external memory

Shades of Humboldt’s Parrot (damn, that’s an old post!): “Widow Asks Public For Help Finding Missing Parrot That Speaks In Late Husband’s Voice” *

A San Juan Capistrano woman is asking the public for help finding her beloved African gray parrot.

Karen McIntyre said the bird’s absence is like losing a member of the family, in part because he spoke in her late husband’s voice.

“My husband passed away three years ago, and he still uses my husband’s voice to tell the dogs to be quiet, and he calls my son Patrick, or he calls my daughter Erin,” said McIntyre.”He picks up the phone and makes telephone calls in my husband’s voice.”

Donald Richie 1924-2013

Donald Richie died last Tuesday. I was already planning to go to the Music Hall Tuesday night for their presentation of Ran; it seemed an excellent way to honor Mr. Richie’s memory, and so I raised a glass to him on my way to the theater. I learned of Mr. Richie’s work very recently – at a dinner at a brilliant friend’s place, I started talking Kurosawa with another brilliant friend (I’d just watched The Seven Samurai again and was full of enthusiasm). She pointed me at Richie’s book on the director as well as a bio of Kurosawa and Mifune by Stuart Galbraith IV and a fantastic novel, The Last Samurai, that uses The Seven Samurai as both an element in the characters lives and as an organizing theme.

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Decoy spider

And the great fleas themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on,
While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on.*

Not an exact verse match, because these greater spiders are not spiders at all – they are decoys made by a Cyclosa? spider.

From afar, it appears to be a medium sized spider about an inch across, possibly dead and dried out, hanging in the center of a spider web along the side of the trail. Nothing too out of the ordinary for the Amazon. As you approach, the spider starts to wobble quickly forward and back, letting you know this spider is, in fact, alive.
Step in even closer and things start to get weird- that spider form you were looking at is actually made up of tiny bits of leaf, debris, and dead insects. The confusion sets in. How can something be constructed to look like a spider, how is it moving, and what kind of creature made this!?
It turns out the master designer behind this somewhat creepy form is in fact a tiny spider, only about 5mm in body length, that is hiding behind or above that false, bigger spider made up of debris. After discussing with several spider experts, we’ve determined it is quite probable that this spider is a never-before-seen species in the genus Cyclosa. This genus is known for having spiders that put debris in their webs to either attract prey or, as in this case, confuse anything trying to eat them.*
Spider collage
Images by Jeff Cremer and Phil Torres

From San Bartolo to Dookie in 1 move

This is just an ‘ooh, shiny’ post inspired by Darren Naish at TetZoo. By far the most popular photos in my Flickrstream are those of Heather Hurst’s amazing scientific illustrations of the San Bartolo murals. In this section, the young lord offers a turkey (on the right) and his blood – based on the tail feathers and location, I’m calling that an Ocellated Turkey.

San Bartolo mural - the king's journey

Artwork in this photo is painted by and copyrighted by Heather Hurst 2008.

Central America is full of critters with wonderful odd faces: Ocellated Turkeys, coatis, peccaries, tapirs, etc.


(Hey, is that John McAfee hiding in the bushes? (Belize joke))

And the crux move – we shift turkeys slightly, and via Mr. Naish’s excellent The Other Turkey post:


Which of course leads immediately to one of the finest music vids ever made. The visuals – perfect. And that organ figure kills me every time.

Johnny “King” Vulture out.