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Grump grump

I have learned of a new thing that makes me EXTREMELY grumpy: showing up to the boatyard to row, having dragged myself out of bed, to find that the water is perfectly flat and there are a minimum of coaching launches...but that all that boats I might take out have gone off somewhere unknown.

I rowed about 100m in a lightweight 1x and concluded it would make me even more grumpy to keep trying.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1219016.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Studying urban animal diets

The thing I appreciate most about this article about studying the diets of urban coyotes in Los Angeles is how it talks about limitations to other methods that are often used to assess the diets of wild animals (e.g. analysis of poop). Over the last several years I've had two undergrads working on a project to try and figure out what wild crickets eat, and it's also a hard problem because crickets, like coyotes, eat a wide range of different things. Unfortunately for us, we haven't had the same level of success when trying the method described in this article (stomach analysis), because by the time stuff winds up in a cricket's crop it's mostly microscopic mush. In the long run I'm hoping we'll be able to do something similar to what the coyote researchers are aiming to do, where they're both studying the visible contents and also sequencing things. (That also has its limits, though, if a significant portion of the animal's diet is its brethren).

Another challenge for us is that humans don't interact with crickets in the same way they interact with coyotes, so there isn't the same sort of direct human-interest motivation to learn more about the crickets. Instead, I have to do more thinking to come up with ways to motivate the cricket work. For instance, like coyotes, crickets are found both in urban and non-urban habitats, so that's one aspect that's of interest. They're also geographically widespread, and generalist omnivores, which also makes them an interesting focal group because there's potential for very high flexibility in what they eat and in how that impacts their success in different environments.

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In Chapter 8, we are introduced to coding in Python.


Python is gross.


(I know this might not make a whole lot of sense.)

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Let's just hang out and read some things

First, I really appreciated an article that [personal profile] conuly just posted, entitled Why did fans flee LiveJournal, and where will they go after Tumblr?. I'll admit that I clicked the article link because I have been a longtime LJ user, and was curious about the ebb and flow of different social media forums. That said, it was useful to read about why a more specific user base ("fans") wound up at LJ, and why that user base moved on, so as to think some more about different kinds of uses of this shared space we call the internet. It was particularly interesting to learn about Archive of Our Own, and how women learned to code by working on it. I also appreciated how site users who identify as "fans" use sites as forums for creative expression.

Then I turned around and read The problem with #deleteBookOfFace (also posted by C). The two articles seem linked, to me, because they're both about this conversation on how we interact with each other online, just now with more commerce and advertising mixed in. I wonder if I would be more satisfied with the website of Social Media Brand F if I could pay an annual use fee and have more clear, direct control over structure and function (not that they're in any kind of position to do any sort of restructuring in such a fashion, heh). Hmm.

I don't have any conclusions to offer from these musings.

So instead, let's read two things about insects.

I appreciate this article about how eating insects is an American tradition, which talks about how this historical culinary practice was discouraged by European settlers because it was taken as evidence of cultural inferiority. Ugh, thanksnothanks, awful historic white people, for your destruction of interesting culinary traditions. I especially like the idea of the insect fruitcakes - old-fashioned granola bar precursors!

Meanwhile, this article about the (completely legal) sale of a Wallace's Giant Bee specimen for $9000 made me depressed, but it's still important to read about.

I also eventually became grateful for someone's rediscovery of a 2015 article about Whale Fall, which I subsequently saw shared on several social media platforms. Was it the inspiration for Ursula V's Hugo speech? Regardless, while a lot of the article is depressing, it's beautifully and poetically written.

The whale fall article reminds me of reading recently about short-chain fluorochemicals, which have been developed in recent years to replace longer-chain fluorochemicals. After being developed and put into widespread use, the longer-chain fluorochemicals were subsequently shown to bioaccumulate and have harmful effects on humans and wildlife. A problem is that our social/political/bureaucratic processes aren't structured very well to test for these kinds of harmful effects before these kinds of compounds get into manufactured goods and general use. And everything always winds up in waterways and then the ocean.

Well, back to work.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1218073.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


[personal profile] scrottie and I went to the ASU Powwow yesterday. It was a wonderful experience, including frybread with beans and cheese. But we were out in the sun for about 4 hours in the middle of the day (yes, I wore sunscreen). I guess it got up to 90 degrees, on the last day of March.

Today, temperatures are up to 92, and I'm finding it difficult to motivate myself to do much.

This is going to be a long, hot summer.

This morning I found myself looking at the drought monitor report for the southwest, updated March 30. Apparently this is looking like one of the top 5 driest winters ever recorded for many locations in Arizona. I'm not especially surprised, but it's still troubling.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1217901.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Centering [ceramics]

Ceramics last night. I decided to throw things. (no, not literally) I used 15 lbs of Rod's Bod to make 3 big bowls. Centering that much clay made me sweat and made my hands and arms tired, in a good way. I wound up using a wheel that had no modulation ability left. I eventually just set the pedal up on the wheel stand and adjusted its speed by hand. I don't remember that wheel acting that way, 7 years ago when I was last taking ceramics there.

Then I tried switching to porcelain. I...made shapes, but not shapely shapes. That's okay.

Throwing isn't quite like riding a bike. I'd forgotten which way I'd been operating the wheel to throw. Left-handed problems. (counterclockwise, the right-handed way)

But I did remember to change how I was looking and feeling. Don't watch the clay - look through it, watch your hands. Steady hands to guide the clay.

I'll try again with the porcelain next week, since I've already run through my whole 25-lb bag of Rod's Bod already. I should probably get more so I can keep making interesting planters.

Marjon's sold electric wheels. They cost a couple hundred dollars. Reasonably-sized electric kilns that can go up to cone 10 are between 2 and 3 grand, but there's also the need for a 240 volt outlet, the operation costs, glazes, and proper safety setup. More hypotheticals.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1217754.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Teh Internets

A blogger whose blog I read periodically recently posted about migrating her website, in addition to posting about her recent decision to leave other social media platforms. In her post about migrating her website, she linked to an essay titled Tending the Digital Commons: A Small Ethics Toward the Future, which includes some comments about skills that people should be taught to empower them to create their own spaces on the web in lieu of solely being dependent on the factory-spaces created and maintained by others. (good, but substantial essay overall; I'd recommend reading the whole thing)

This arrived right on the heels of a funny moment: I finally updated my website at the beginning of this week. [It's mostly an academic site at the moment] I want to make more changes, but the current updates were overdue anyway, so it's a start. The direct motivation for the updates was because I'll be leading another workshop on R in early May, and wanted to post the tentative schedule on my Learn R resources page.

There were broken links, left and right, all over my website, because academic institutions like to redesign their websites every 6 months. I fixed a bunch of them.

I also finally figured out how to quickly convert all of my recipes into text files (so easy at the command line, heh). I haven't attempted to go through and fix any weird formatting that has resulted, but the text conversion will finally make it possible for me to check ingredients on my smart-o-phone while I'm at the grocery store, hurrah! Note that there isn't a link to my recipe index from my homepage because a postdoc mentor of mine said they thought it was too unprofessional.

In the process of getting organized for the R workshop, one of the grad student leaders asked, "Can we put all the materials for the workshop onto Google Drive?" and I think he might have been a bit taken aback by my vehement and immediate, "NO!" and subsequent explanation of why it would be better to host the content on Not-Oogley-Googley. (I'm pretty sure all of you already understand this).

I still need to learn more about working with cascading stylesheets, and I need to learn more about options for shifting my photo-hosting over to my website instead of depending on Flickr. On the other hand, there's the whole "community" aspect to Flickr, they've got nice photo-organizing systems, and at least they've got a paid business structure. So, unresolved dilemma, I suppose.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1217397.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Dremeling the cat

This is a thing we do now.

We should have done it slightly sooner - poor Emma's thick claw was starting to dig into her toe bean.

She didn't freak out as badly this time when I first turned on the Dremel.

We did give her some tasty cheese as a reward afterwords, and I have to hope she appreciated feeling better when it was over.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1217126.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Random hypotheticals

-It would be nice to try beekeeping someday, just to see what's involved in producing a given amount of honey, just to have a sense as to what's an appropriate amount of sweetener to use and consume for life in general.

-I bought some beautiful Dine churro yarn several years back, but there isn't a whole lot of it. It seems like it would pair well with some Lopi yarn for an Icelandic-style sweater, for the cold winters of the future - this pattern looks great, for instance. That reminds me that I should print out the pattern for my next project - this, but with four colors of yarn because that's what's in my stash. I need to figure out how to combine the colors.

-A list of things I'd like to grow in a future garden: sour cherry tree, rhubarb aplenty, blackberries, more mara de bois strawberries, blueberries (what about huckleberries?), could I manage artichokes?, what about an indoor/outdoor citrus tree. I am also thinking I should try to start up around 25 palo verde trees for the ants. I'll need to collect the seeds this summer.

. Back to reading and writing.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1216968.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Repeat themes


Large, multifunctional corporations (Amazonia, Mall-Wart) outcompeting smaller, unionized businesses.

Private equity firms leveraging debt onto retail businesses.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1216737.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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