Scenario: you are walking in the woods and an exuberant young dog comes gamboling toward you. You fear that the pup is going to jump on you.

DO NOT  bend forward at the waist towards the dog, extend your arm and waggle your finger. Dogs are not children – and kids often don’t respect this kind of flailing either. It’s hard to imagine a more counterproductive course of action. Dogs read body language. You are inviting the dog to make contact – getting your face and upper body (the target) closer to the dog and giving it an intermediate focus – your hand, with movement! – to amp the pup up further.

If the dog, after all you’ve done to confuse the issue, does not jump up (yay, Dinah) but instead just makes a couple tight laps around you and takes off, at the very least ignore the dog’s owner (assuming you can’t spare a smile and a nod). A steely glare may cause the owner to cry out “Sic balls, Fang!” the next time you see him (*grin* – not really).

Also – don’t let the dog jump on you. It doesn’t matter if it’s OK with you – it’s probably not OK with 95% of the folks out there. The dog has no way of knowing – short of body language (see point 1) – whether you are a 5 percenter or not, so like a good empiricist, he’ll test – it’s a moderate risk, high payback situation.

DO stand up straight and largely ignore the dog. If the dog does jump make a sound of disapproval – mine sounds like ‘ack’ as uttered by a baritone seagull – and use the word ‘off’ – ‘down’ may mean something else to the dog. Why not use ‘no!’? If the dog is a jumper, chances are decent that he has heard the word ‘no’ so much it has become background noise. Keep your arms at your sides or folded on your chest – if any of this is news to you, you don’t have the moves or the dog sense to do anything useful with them and if the dog is super-excited and mouthy you increase the chances of injury. If you just have to bump, hip-check the dog – turning your back can be just as effective.

That is all.

Aprés la grêle

A serious thunderstorm came through early yesterday evening – there was even a tornado warning issued (not common here in New England)! No funnel clouds AFAIK, but about 10 minutes of hail. Some pictures of the aftermath taken this morning…

I grabbed one of the larger stones and put it in the freezer:


My lotus took some hits:


It’s a tough life. A nestling killed by the hail:


The woods got a much needed soaking – out come the amphibians. Young of the year spring peepers everywhere:

More fun with signs.


Make your own gas station sign here – via Bruce Sterling, who also gives us a link to an article in the Australian:

There is instead a new reality: the greatest transfer of income in human history, away from energy importers such as the US to energy exporters; the rise of a new breed of wealthy autocracies that cripple US hopes of dominating the global system; and demands on the US to make fresh compromises in a world where power is rapidly being diversified.

Despite cyclical fluctuations, world oil and energy prices will stay high, driven by long-run changes in supply and demand. This provokes a global wealth redistribution without precedent to oil exporters, mainly in the Middle East and Russia, that marches in tandem with China’s export-driven current account surplus.

The falconry bell curve

Big – a first-year gyrfalcon – and little – a downy/pin-y merlin.  Sharp-eyed viewers – the merlin got blown out of his nest and his right eye got a minor infection in the process – it’s recovering well. Non-falconers – note the difference in the proportions and structure of the feet. The merlin has bird-catcher’s feet; the gyr is much more a generalist, shading towards furred quarry.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Fungus among us

Steve posted recently about overharvest of a Tibetan medicinal fungus – when I clicked through and read the LA Times article, the scientific name of the fungus rang a bell. “Cordyceps,” says I. “Isn’t that the genus of the mind control fungus?” Off to Wikipedia to verify that, yes, indeed, Cordyceps unilateralis changes the behavior of it’s ant host.

Cordyceps unilateralis is a species of entomopathogenic fungus that infects and alters the behavior of ants in order to ensure the widespread distribution of its spores. The spores enter the body of the insect through its spiracles, where they begin to consume the non-vital soft tissues. When the fungus is ready to spore, its mycelia enter the ant’s brain and change how it perceives pheromones, causing the insect to climb to the top of a plant and use its mandibles to secure itself to the stem. The fungus then kills the ant, and the fruiting bodies of C. unilateralis grow from its head and explode, releasing the spores. This process takes 4 to 10 days.*

No similar activity was mentioned for Cordyceps sinensis (the Tibetan vegetable caterpillar), but that won’t stop me from speculating. I have 2 hypotheses:

  • The Tibetans will wreak a terrible revenge on the Han people during the Beijing Olympics.  As the Chinese synchronized divers are ready to capture a gold medal, the combination of vegetable caterpillar supplements, humidity in the diving venue and height of the platform will combine to cause the C. sinensis to fruit. Having jumped species successfully, Beijing will be overrun with fungus zombies.
  • Same basic scenario, but it’s the Mi-Go using a fungal vector to take over the planet. I’m agnostic as to whether our brains will be canned and shipped to Pluto – maybe we’ll all just merge into a huge mycelium-mind.





A little more about Jott, to follow up on the brief post below… Jott is, at core, a speech-to-text application. It’s the input and output options that make it – IMHO – very cool. The primary input feeder is a phone – dial Jott, tell it where you want the message to go and start talking. When you’re done, pause – Jott will say “Got it” and queue up the message to be processed into text and sent. Output options include:

  • Send an email message to yourself. This was what got me interested in Jott in the first place. I find myself having ideas or thinking of some little thing I really ought to do only to have the thought go on sabbatical (if it’s something I need to do, it usually returns as I’m trying to go to sleep – if it’s a good idea, it may never come back). Now I can make a quick phone call and jott myself a note.
  • Send an email and a text message to someone else. I used this today – sent a message to someone: “Call me once you’ve started your day.”
  • Send an update to Twitter. Very handy for those of us without qwerty keypads on our phones – at least that subset who are pathetic at numpad texting (I’m a member).
  • Add an item to a list. Jott accounts are provisioned with a To Do List already included  – I’ve added a list for blog post topics. Grocery lists, people to murther, the possibilities are endless.
  • Post to your blog. Moblog mastery!

For the coolest, most mind bending, creatively playful use of Jott ever, click here. It’s a two species blog post – bravo RKO’C!

Bugs 'n clams

Great outing last night – off with my friend E to do battle with Homarus americanus (often referred to as bugs in these parts) and steamers (softshelled clams). Dee-lish! While waiting for E, I spotted a pirate and 2 wenches exiting the NH Liquor Store – some folks shilling for a rum brand – funny and odd. After dinner E went swimmin’ – too cold for your humble correspondent.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.