All the outdoor reptiles and amphibians around here settled in for a long winter nap some time ago. There are still plenty of reasons to get excited about cold-blooded critters – here’s one:


Via Peculiar.

A side note – one of my Crimmus prezzints was a set of Planet Earth DVDs – narrated by David Attenborough. Wonderful!

While we’re on the subject – a combination motorcycle and turtle center in Clerkenwell:


The etymology of cooter (as a name for turtles) is in dispute. The most common explanation is that it comes from kuta – a West African word, but another ties it back to an obsolete verb.

Wait a minute – you were thinking of another definition of cooter?!? For shame!

Some Phrags

Popped over to my favorite local greenhouse to pick up some Pothos for the phasmids and while I was there took a couple pictures of some hybrid Phragmipediums. They also had some nice bell jars – maybe in a month or two…


Follow-up on some posts

I channel-surfed my way to a teevee program on the history of Soviet helicopters the other evening. There was footage of the Mi-12; it’s tough to envision just how big it is until you see it swallowing trucks whole. I did a YouTube search and came up with the following clip – it’s in French and interestingly enough what parts of the narration I understand match perfectly with the English version I saw. Mi-12 fun fact – there’s a shaft connecting both powertrains together. Both engines on one side could fail, but both rotors will continue to turn.


Minor spoiler alert! I’ve posted on Alan Moore and Gerry Anderson recently and wasn’t surprised at all to find that Moore knows his Anderson. In The Black Dossier Mina and Allan arrive at a spaceport where they steal a rocket – a Pancake Extra-Large 4. They had been told that the Extra-Large models are named after how the previous models met their end (thus Shrapnel XL2). One guess as to how the Pancake meets it’s end (with a not-too-bright Perspex robot pilot at the controls).

Thirty Five Year Old Ancient History

Somewhere/sometime in an office move I grabbed a Southwest Technical Products Corp. Computer Products Catalogue out of a trash pile. Yes, I am a pack rat. I’ve been meaning to scan it and put it on line for some time now and finally did so. You can see the results by clicking here or on the image below. There’s more SWTPC doco here (I didn’t see my catalog, so I don’t think I’m duping info that Mr. Holley has already made available).

Now this is a printer! (and in keeping with the era, “!” is pronounced bang):


I commented elsewhere that there seem to be two things that one does not need to teach a puppy: the play bow and what a wood stove is for. Dinah is right in the mix – participating in the slow-motion roil of boiling shorthairs.

Potential outage

A storm is supposed to arrive here sometime late tonight. It’s making the local weather forecasters slightly frantic; depending on the precise track it takes, things might get a bit interesting. If we experience one of the possibilities – freezing rain followed by high winds – power failure is likely. No power means no DoaMNH – rest assured, we’ll be back as soon as electrons are once again available.


A skywatching note, courtesy of New Scientist:

The Earth is expected to pass through the thickest part of the cloud of debris at 1745 GMT on Friday 14 December. Observers in Europe will see the best display on Friday evening.

For observers in North and South America, the peak occurs during daylight hours. For them, the display will be best before dawn on Friday morning, when a few dozen meteors per hour should be visible from a dark site at mid-northern latitudes.

The weather doesn’t look like it’s going to cooperate here in NH but I’ll probably get up extra-early Friday morning, just in case.

Update – Well, that was a bust. Wall-to-wall clouds at about 1000 feet – I did get most of the driveway shoveled, though. We got six inches of snow yesterday afternoon and evening. Heavier snow to the south made last night’s commute nightmarish for those poor folk going in and out of Boston. One nice bit – on the way to work this AM, I saw a southbound freight train. Each boxcar had an identical little vortex of spindrift coming off the trailing edge of the roof – really pretty under the slate gray dawn.

Homers in Brooklyn

A nice article on pigeon racing in today’s Gray Lady. I didn’t see any obvious errors (I’ll let Steve be the final judge on that) and the tone isn’t ridiculously patronizing. I heave a sigh of relief for all concerned. Some quotes and pix:

A group of fliers stood in the hallway at the wake, telling their best Frank Viola stories. Remember how his birds flew missions for the Army Signal Corps in World War II? And how about the time he turned down $20,000 from a Taiwanese breeder for one of his champion pigeons?



Mr. Mantagas was sitting on the roof of his two-story house in Coney Island, the ground floor of which he rents to the Viola club. Of the 10 pigeons he entered — most fliers enter 5 to 20 birds in a race — he was favoring a blue bar hen wearing the band number 511.

That bird, he said, had been “sitting on eggs,” a strategy that involves putting a handful of fake plastic eggs in the nest of a female pigeon in the days before a race. If a bird thinks it has been separated from its unborn chicks, the theory goes, it will fly back faster to the coop.



Soon his favorite bird, a blue-checkered cock, appeared on the horizon, its wings pumping. Mr. Fasano reached into a crate at his feet to grab a chico, a bright white, non-racing bird that fliers use like a flare to attract the attention of incoming pigeons, and threw it into the air. Noticing the chico, the cock flew toward the roof and landed on the edge of the coop, a few feet from the electronic timer that would record its return.

Mr. Fasano took a few gingerly steps toward the bird, shaking a plastic tub of birdseed. “That’s a baby, go inside,” he said softly. The timer beeped, registering the bird’s arrival. 13:02:11. A little more than five hours from Somerset. It was a good time, maybe a winning one. After a few more birds returned, Mr. Fasano jumped into his car and set off for the Viola club, a few exits down the Belt Parkway.

Jeez, the fun stuff in Brooklyn just keeps piling up. Let’s see – I could hawk starlings with a merlin or parrots with a coops, but the shorthairs would not be happy. I guess visiting is the best bet…

Nice Hair!

!Warning – contains minimal original content!

Some pix from recent web wandering united by funky pelage. In order of discovery:

Telstar Logistics’ Flickrstream yields a screencap from Gerry Anderson’s UFO.


As a commenter notes, it’s important to keep your utility belt fully stocked with golf tees. I believe one of these lovelies will be featured a little further on…


Via FLOG, Chris Butcher shows us a rockabilly ‘do that… words fail me. I’ll bet this guy smokes cigarettes as part of the persona – he’s taking his life in his hands every time he fires one up.


Yhancik – billions of blistering blue barnacles! There are some Tintin pix in this post – about halfway down.


More MoonBase loveliness from Poletti’s Flickrstream (worth looking at – lots of great images):


Two musical notes (sorry)… The actress pictured above is Gabrielle Drake. The musical tie-in? Nick Drake was her brother. And – while nosing around for more background on UFO, I fell over a new-to-me early electronic instrument: the ondes Martenot.


I sometimes wonder if Cyril Kornbluth will be the next Philip K. Dick movie/screenplay-wise. Actually, he may already be – my ties to to the motion picture industry consist of being able to look up titles on IMDB. Two Kornbluth/Pohl collaborations I read ages ago have stuck with me to this day: Gladiator-At-Law and The Space Merchants. Gladiator-At-Law seems especially apposite nowadays, what with the housing finance mess (aka Big Shitpile) – revolving as it does around housing and arcane financial arrangements to obscure who controls what. I wonder whether Pohl or Kornbluth read Gangs of New York; one of the gangs in Belly Rave (a slum housing development originally named Belle Reve) is the Wabbits – surprisingly close to NYC’s Dead Rabbits. Wa-wa-wabbit twacks! Also – struldbrugs! The Space Merchant’s Chicken Little (a huge blob of chicken tissue that’s fed chorella algae -IIRC- and has hunks sliced off that become people food) resonates today as well – here’s a class on animal tissue culture and tissue engineering. I can’t wait for Ron Popeil to get involved – “Makes beef jerky for around $3 a pound, and you know what went in it, because you made it yourself!

Kornbluth hit the silver screen at least once – The Marching Morons fathered Mike Judge’s Idiocracy. I loved the Marching Morons when I first read it – in my defense, I was fourteen – since then, well… It’s great fun, but when you’ve finished there’s a strange odor in the air. I smell eugenics. We’ll ignore the statistical cold water as well – tons of dopes, tiny elite – what are your chances of rolling lucky seven in the can’t-choose-your-parents crapshoot. That’s right – in all likelihood, you’d be one of the pinheads. The Marching Morons does give me an excuse to introduce a great new word: tlonian – adjective applying to a product that has metastisized off the screen and into the real world (see: Holiday Inn) and post a video of an AWESOME new tlonian product from Idiocracy, Brawndo: The Thirst Mutilator. I love Borges.


Via Telstar Logistics, a glorious bit of bricolage:


Click through and view the whole thing. Nixie tube speedo! Vacuum cleaner brake light! My two wheel lust continues to be focused on a Ducati Monster, but this is sublime.

The Maker’s first name – Nemo – is getting filed under ‘Suggestions for Grandbaby Names’ – to be used far in the future. A simultaneous link to Verne and McCay would not be a bad thing.