Saturday, January 27, 2007

More Zoo Pics

The following photos were taken during the same trip to the San Diego Zoo that generated the pictures I posted a few weeks ago; I just haven't gotten around to post these until now (as before, click the pictures for a larger copy):

Bai Yun, a giant panda, snacks on a tasty stick of bamboo while her young daughter, Su Lin, watches .

A hippopotamus opens wide for a stream of water from a keeper (presumably used--in lieu of a of a 10-foot toothbrush--to clean its mouth).

Pictured here are two okapi. These interesting and beautiful mammals are very closely related to giraffes (although a superficial analysis could easily lead someone to think that they're a species of zebra).

A trio of meerkat guards stand ready to defend their home from any and all attackers.

I don't know what the zoo is doing with an armored truck. . .oh wait. . .sorry, that's not armored truck, it's a rhinoceros!

If I didn't think it would make me dangerously dizzy, I think I could sit and stare at a zebra for hours.

Another unanticipated hummingbird moment. These tiny creatures just seem to be flittering all about the zoo, finding nectar in its plentiful flora.

A pack of pachyderms! Interestingly, the San Diego Zoo has plans to completely overhaul the elephant exhibit, making it much more spacious and comfortable for the elephants, and more informative for visitors (Actually, what they're doing is more ambitious than that, but I won't go into the details here. Suffice to say, it's really exciting.).

I don't know much about this particular animal--other than that it's probably a species of African antelope--but I'm certainly impressed by its contortionist abilities!

Sleeping during the day? Is this koala lazy? Nope, just nocturnal.

And, just because no zoo photo post from me could be complete without at least one primate. . .

. . .here's a picture of my orangutan friends, Satu and Karen, hanging out in their fantastic climbing apparatus.

More later!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

On writing

Lest you think that I've fried what little blogging abilities I once had and have been reduced to posting nothing but You Tube clips for the foreseeable future, here's a tediously boring personal post.

It's January again, which, for me, seems to be the time when I decide to take night classes at my local community college. As I did last year, I've enrolled in an English composition class to fulfill yet another university prerequisite. Luckily, if the first class is any indicator, I expect it to be a pretty stimulating experience.

As I drove home last night after the class, I was began to ponder the appeal writing has for me (yes, contrary to popular opinion, I am prone to the occasional bout of introspective philosophising) and I hit upon what I believe to be the one of the main reasons I am drawn to it: writing is an act of pure creation. When I write, I start with nothing but a blank piece of paper or computer screen, and then minutes, hours, days, weeks later something has come into being that--in all the momentous history of the universe--has never before existed (unless, of course, there is an alien blogger somewhere else in the universe that thinks and writes just like me, I but I'd just as soon not go down that road). From my will, substance emerges! All look upon my greatness and despair!* Err. . .maybe not, but I hope you get my picture.

Beyond the intoxicating power of creativity, there's something positively electrifying and--to me, at least--terrifying in witnessing the intuitive logic of my thoughts begin to form a coherent structure in the words I write; and almost inevitably, I am surprised by the results of this process. Often, I find that the unpacking of my thoughts into words reveals to me what I had previously been thinking in far greater clarity and detail than my scattered brain is capable of producing on it's own. In that sense, I think writing can be likened to opening a Christmas present; I may have a general sense about what the present will be, but until it's unwrapped I can't really know what it is with any precision.

Of course, some presents really aren't very interesting at all, and some of them--as I'm sure I'd soon discover if I bothered to peruse my archives--really don't age very well. But hey--that's life!

*I more or less cribbed that line from Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings, so it doesn't count as part of the whole "never before seen in the universe" thing. Tolkien's estate can sue me.**

** Please don't sue me. I really can't afford it right now.

Andy Griffith, where are you when we need you?

Watch Ron Howard ("Opi") do a dead-on impression of President Bush:

(hat tip to Ted)

Monday, January 22, 2007

This means war!

I'm speechless. Just watch it.

Then again. . .

. . .perhaps home is where the waves lap gently against the sand, the sun burns through the clouds before noon, and the carne asada burrito is a form of unoffical currency. I'm so confused.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Comin' home

I've taken a brief break from my comfortable southern California climate to visit some family in the bitter Midwest (oddly enough, they were experiencing a much warmer-than-average winter, that is, until I showed up!). Last night, I took a walk in the sub-freezing weather and realized something: no matter what geographic locale I settle upon in later years, I will always be a part of the great Midwestern Diaspora. Home is where the lakes freeze solid, the trees shudder under the burdensome weight of snow, and shockingly large icicles dangle precariously from every ledge, just waiting to fall and stab some unsuspecting victim (no doubt an out-of-stater) in the eye. Simply put, nothing reminds that I'm alive quite so well as the sensation of my boogers freezing inside my nose.

Now, if only they had more snails. . .

Saturday, January 13, 2007

It's like he read my mind!

I bet that as you woke up this morning, the first thought that popped into your head was, "Gee, I sure could use a basic primer on the field of Cladistics!" Me too. Luckily for us, John Wilkins has the goods.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

An answer to Voltaire's prayer

Ah, Bill Dembski--thy megalomania knows no bounds:
If I ever became the president of a university (per impossibile), I would dissolve the biology department and divide the faculty with tenure that I couldn’t get rid of into two new departments: those who know engineering and how it applies to biological systems would be assigned to the new “Department of Biological Engineering”; the rest, and that includes the evolutionists, would be consigned to the new “Department of Nature Appreciation” (didn’t Darwin think of himself as a naturalist?).
[emphasis mine]

While this may seem like an extreme statement, it's pretty much par for Dembski's course. If I wanted to, I could easily sustain this blog with nothing but posts making fun of the ridiculous things that this man says and does on a regular basis( and I'd probably get more traffic, too!); be glad, oh my reader, that this is a course upon which I have chosen not to embark. Still, like Nelson from The Simpsons, I simply cannot resist the urge to, on occasion, point in Dembski's general direction and--with a shrill, prepubescent tone--yell:

(To those not in the know, William Dembksi--a theologian, mathematician, and creator of flatulent flash animations--is one of the leaders of the Intelligent Design movement. He has a website, Uncommon Descent, where he and his friends make asinine statements, and then ban or censor anybody with the temerity to disagree with them. It's great fun.)