Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ape Language Studies

Scientists Successfully Teach Gorilla It Will Die Someday

50 FIRSTS #17: 1st Census Form

I'm not sure how this is possible, but I just filled out and sent in my first census form. I was in Jerusalem for the year in 2000, so must've missed doing it (maybe Yorke filled it out for me??) In 1990, my then husband must've done so. 1980 - last year of high school so I guess my parents did it.

I have to confess that although short and certainly not difficult, some of the questions did make me think "should I really be answering this??" I did it, but wish there was a more secure way to do so.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


We have a new contender for "favorite position" I think. I walked into the living room this afternoon (stayed home to work on our summer website) and found a giant hairy slug on my sofa. He was o-u-t cold. Really very cute. When I pet the sunny side of him, he was like a hairy heating pad.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

50 FIRSTS #15: Rest in Peace Ted Kennedy

Watched the endless back and forth on the floor for several hours, in order to see this historic vote. Watched it on Fox News to see what they were saying during the process. Insightful comments like "who ever designed a graphic that uses white letters against a bright background?? The graphics people at Fox certainly wouldn't do that." When they brought on Trent Lot who said this vote represents the destruction of the country and the Constitution, I changed channels.

50 FIRSTS #9: Sunrise Balloon Ride Over the Nile's West Bank

This was not on the archaeology tour plan for Luxor, but when we checked into our hotel, we noticed a sunrise hot air balloon trip over the Valley of the Kings available for the next morning at an amazingly inexpensive price. Too good to pass up. Definitely one for the "firsts" list. Very cool. It included breakfast on the Nile, then about an hour long flight. Here are a few shots:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Stewart as Beck

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50 FIRSTS #14: Called my Congressman

I have often thought about calling my congressman at various times, but finally did it today when I read that Donnelly still hadn't made a decision about how he is going to vote on the Health Care bill. Seems a bit cowardly -- time's a ticking. So, I sent an email, posted a comment on his webpage, and called both his DC and South Bend offices. Then posted a notice on my Facebook page as well as the ND Faculty & Staff FB page. I even made this nifty little skeleton action figure just for him...

When I called, the aide took my name, occupation, and then said "so, you want him to vote "no"? He received a rather surprised, then emphatic response from me... ;-)

Come on Donnelly, you know what the right answer is!

On the off chance that you are a resident in Indiana's 2nd Congressional District, here's how to contact him:

website contact form: http://donnelly.house.gov/contact/contact-us-form.shtml
DC office phone: 202-225-3915
South Bend office phone: 574-288-2780

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dixie Chick

Yesterday Michael and Doug had to go into Chicago for a funeral, so Dixie came to stay for the night. She's a cutie pie...at least I thought so. Lemur was of a differing opinion. Wiley just looked at her, then went back to sleep, and Maz stayed in the closet for the night. Poor Dixie didn't get much sleep - so many new noises to check out (among them Lemur's fairly regular growl or hiss just for effect).

This morning when I let her outside, she ran into a giant opossum and came right back in. So when I took her for a walk a bit later, she led me (with determination) back to her house and wouldn't budge. She jumped in a chair, laid down, and essentially said "okay, you can go now." I checked back in on her later, she didn't even get up to bark at me as I came in (normally she's quite vocal). Dixie was one tired pup.

She did manage to bark at the Jehovah's Witness who came by while I was hanging out, and gave the UPS man some lip for good measure. But quickly back to the chair and back to sleep.

The pictures below -- a)Dixie responding to Lemur's threat (little foot in the air), and b) Lemur's general hiding place when not c)espousing his displeasure at her visit.

50 FIRSTS #1&2: United Arab Emirates Visit

Got to see 6 of the 7 Emirates in December/January. Lesley needed to collect samples from several collections for her dissertation, which meant visiting numerous museums around the country. The only Emirate we didn't visit was Abu Dhabi (admittedly, the largest). We visited several cool places (Arabia Wildlife Center, Blue Suk, Sharjah Cornish, etc.), but I have to confess that the highlight for me was seeing my first large sand dunes. I've been in the desert before in many places, but there were always bushes/trees n' such. Pictures from Dubai were posted earlier, I've included a few from the various other Emirates below (including some seriously flooded streets after a downpour in Fujairah):

50 FIRSTS #5: Crumby Omani Hotel

After working at several museums in the UAE, we traveled to Oman to see the beehive tombs near Ibri (that's a tale for another post). On the first night we stayed in the Marina Hotel in Muscat. We went with the recommendation in the Lonely Planet guide (which got all manner of things wrong in their UAE/Oman/Yemen book - beware), but clearly should have checked Trip Advisor first. Only one review is good (probably written by the owner), the rest tell the tale.

When we went to check out, they tried to triple the rate from that agreed to on the phone. Argued for a bit, finally got fed up, paid them the equivalent of half the price of one room (we had 2) at our agreed upon price, told the guy at the front desk he had no honor and walked out. Gotta admit, although feeling justifiably self-righteous, I was a bit nervous doing it.

We chuckled for the rest of the day that they had no way to find us since we didn't reserve on-line and didn't pay with a credit card...until we got to the hotel in Ibri and they asked the standard first request -- "passports please." Then we remembered, the Marina had indeed xeroxed our passports like every other hotel we'd stayed in on our trip. Probably to keep people from jumping their bill... So, we spent the day hunting for the tombs, assuming that we'd be thrown in chains at the border crossing ;-) Yep, we showed them all right.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

50 FIRSTS #3: High Tea in Dubai

I want to link each of the "50 New Things" to a posting, so I have some backtracking to do. Here are a few picture from our visit to the Burj al Arab, Dubai's 7-star hotel. Gotta confess, while the food was amazing, I wasn't much of a fan of the opulence of Dubai. Conspicuous consumption on an unimaginable scale.

The first shot is of the outside of the hotel, a view from inside looking up, the fountain and Christmas decorations, and the Burj Dubai just before it opened (world's tallest building).

Friday, March 12, 2010

50 FIRSTS #12: Homemade Horseradish

Lately I've been cooking a lot on the weekends (for the remainder of the week), hitting the Farmer's market, using mostly organics, trying to cut out meat for the most part, etc. This has involved some experimenting with new foods along to the way to keep it interesting. For example, several stores seem to have horseradish root available now, getting ready for Pesach (Passover) I 'suppose.

I LOVE horseradish. The hotter the better. "Preparing a Horseradish Root" gave me what turned out to be, very accurate information. I thought they were exaggerating in parts, such as: Grind or grate fresh horseradish in a well-ventilated room. The fumes are potent—a whiff may be stronger than you expect! I thought, really, how strong could it be??

Nope. I think I burned my eyeballs out. The smell was great, but man are the 'volatile oils' released are silent but deadly. Man it tastes great. Painful but worth it. Yum!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

NCSE's New "UpChucky Awards"

This is a pretty fun new award, in name as well as purpose.

The UpChucky Awards

As explained on the website: Enter the intelligently designed UpChucky Award, which recognizes supreme achievement in the field of persistently rejecting evolution in the most stomach-turning way imaginable. This crown of cluelessness, this diadem of density, this badge of bullpucky isn't awarded to just any Darwin doubter.

I think Ben Stein should still be on the list.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

SNL Humor Worthy of Blogging Again

For some odd reason, the blogging muse is back with me. May only be temporary, I may quickly be wooed back to the instant gratification of Facebook if no comments appear after a few entries, but for now, why not? Not much of meaning to share, just like having a place to upload fund finds on the web. So let me start with this new political piece, directed by Ron Howard, that brought back all the starts of SNL who played presidents for a dream sequence with Barack Obama. Pretty fun: