29 May 2007

Roast Beast

Of the conversations held over this week-end, the one that really stands out is the 'exotic meats eaten,' held over the course of one Saturday afternoon.

Many people described eating bears, snakes, horses, water buffalo, zebras, various members of the insect Kingdom, birds, cephalopods, and several unclean beasts that don't even have a chance of becoming kosher.

Surprisingly, nobody had ever eaten Pangolin. Even more surprising, was the fact nobody knew what a Pangolin looked like.

Pangolins, as you know, are the result of a biochemist who, in what can only be described as a fit of madness, inserted a pine cone chromosome into the genome of a mongoose. And now is sitting at home with his wife Matilda saying, "There's yore danged missing link for ya boys. Figure out what that came from."

You would think that somebody would have tasted 'Roast Pangolin' before eating squid or snails, but no.

One thing we did agree on is 'Roast Pangolin' probably tastes like pine-scented chicken.

So, if anybody out in cyberspace, outerspace, or. . .perhaps just spaced out. . .has eaten one of these creatures, please tell me.

I'm a biologist. It's my job.

Todays Tidbit: On this date in 1935, Arthur Kneibler (no relation to the Keebler elves) received a patent for men's briefs. . .aka underwear. According to the Ottawa Citizen and the Chicago Tribune, a 1935 magazine ad touted it's 'scientific suspension' and 'restful buoyancy.'

It still amazes me how humans survived the Ice Age.

27 May 2007

Another reason not to live in Alabama

This creature was shot by an 11-year-old in Alabama recently, according to CNN.com. At over 1,000 pounds, it's almost as big as the world's heaviest human. I don't know where the world's heaviest human lives, but to think that a member of the same species as me is bigger than this beast is a little frightening.

I wonder how much bacon the kid will get from this thing?

25 May 2007

The eagles are coming

The eagles are getting restless. They're wanting to leave to nest. They're no longer content to spend all day eating fish inside. They're standing on the walls of the nest scoping out the people. Watching mothers walk with their newborns in the park. Hopping on the limbs. Peeing on innocent bystanders (must be guys). Getting ready for their maiden flights. Already they're flapping their wings and 'flying' from branch to branch for practice.

running news: 4 miles this afternoon in 90 degree sunny weather. Did not feel that great. The run felt more like a death march. A Chesapeake trail of tears. Current very thirsty.

I get high with a little help from my friends

16,000 feet altitude above Tengboche Monastery

The mountain in the distance is (I think) Ama Dablam

Naamche Bazaar

Nepali Girl in Kathmandu

Mt. Everest

Durbur Square (in the old area beside Kathmandu and the former capital hundreds of years ago)

Suspension bridge that I saw a yak walk across

When small dogs go bad in 3rd world communist countries

airport in Lukla

Nepal is...

a must-go-to country, and the capital-Kathmandu-is like. . .well it's something unlike anything you've ever seen (or smelled).

The entire country is like 13th century Europe with lots of shops selling fake North Face jackets, handmade Gurkha knives, yak sweaters (avg cost-700 rupees), masks, little wooden Buddhas (he was born there), incense, lots of fake (genuine mountaineering equipment), dead animal parts, and much more. Kathmandu is a little like Bree or Hobbiton-everybody is 5-feet-tall, brown, and wears size 1 Levis. . .and sandals. It's amazing really. After 29+ hours and 3 planes, you rapidly come to the conclusion that 'you're not in Kansas anymore. You've come to the land of the little people.'

Food: Food is cheap. 75 cents will get you a plate of fried rice, fried fish, fried something else, some fried green things, and a Fanta. Fanta is common there, very common. So is opium and marijuana. Marijuana is a weed in Nepal that grows everywhere. There's a few nice plants at the airport parking lot if you're interested.

When trekking in the Himalaya (not Himalayas. . .there is no 's'), food is another story. Everything is carried with you, or rather, on the backs of porters.

What we ate in the mountains: yak jerky, eggs, tea, boiled lemonade, flat bread, and 37 combinations of yak jerky, eggs, bread. Oh, candy bars. Candy bars are also the currency in the high Himalaya. You can get anything you want with chocolate candy bars, as rupees and dollars are useless here.

Buddhist temples: they have them here. 99% of the country is Buddhist. I think Christianity is forbidden (not sure). The temples are cold, clammy, evil, empty, dry places. If you want to know what real evil spirits feel like-this is the place. I wouldn't go into one alone. There's more than lamas (priests) living in the temples. Strange things happen here. Very strange.

Mt. Everest: high, very high. Very hard to breathe here. Base camp consists of millions of rocks on a glacier. Everest itself is like a painting due to the clear air (what little air there is), lack of pollution, and you wonder how anybody could ever summit the thing and survive.

I think later today, I will post some pictures.

In running news: This afternoon I ran 6 miles very, very slowly. On sheer will power. I like to think Jason is simulating the last 10k of the marathon.

22 May 2007

No Doubt about it


I don't want anyone to think I'm a heretic, but lately I've been having some doubts.

I know, I know.

"Jason, you weren't raised like this."

You're right. I wasn't. Still, every once in a while, in the back of my mind, there's this gnawing sensation. . .an empty feeling. . .something in the pit of my stomach.

And. . .and. . .it, well. . .makes me uncomfortable. This nothingness. This void.

I want to believe. I truly do. But at times-it's hard.

Again, don't get me wrong. I'm not losing my beliefs. I mean, I know it's true. Why would there be so many adherents if it were not?

There's the crowds, the filled stadiums. This transcendence of cultures, that warm fuzzy feeling you get from being next to your fellow man week by week. The bonding. The sharing. Sometimes there's even. . .tears.


Still. . .(and this is hard to admit), but. . .

Does anybody else have this nagging feeling that. . .

Professional Wrestling is not quite everything it seems to be???


Have you ever. . .

spent a good hour in a serious conversation with somebody who has never been out of the county, except twice in their life?

and. . .has no concept of where any of the states are located??

And they honestly believe that Colorado is near the Pacific?

And thinks any day now, we'll be sending somebody to Mars?

Just wondering. (That's all I'm going to say about that)

I'm going to start posting some of my marathon training here, so that people from Letsrun.com can mock me and others can see what I do. And see what I don't do. And ask me why I am sometimes not doing what I should be doing. And doing what I sometimes should not be doing.


This afternoon consisted of a flat six miles. First three were fairly easy. 4th mile felt blah. 5th and 6th mile were something like a death march. It might have been the chile and chicken sandwich from Wendys I ate at 1 AM Sunday night.

Most of my running for the next 3 months will be in the middle of the afternoon, at sea level, over mostly flat terrain, with fairly high humidity. I should not call it 'marathon training.' It's more like 'pre-marathon' training. That's running to get into shape before you start training.

'TLC training'

Tendons, ligaments, and cartilage will theoretically be strengthened during this phase. Some weight will be lost, and the body will gradually become acclimated to running for longer periods of time. I won't be concerned about mile splits and other times.

19 May 2007


This are some of the reasons I am moving North-by-Northwest. [Note: I didn't take these. They come from a major metropolitan newspaper in Seattle]

My last job, as an aquatic biologist, involved stream restoration studies. One of the ways to do this was to add rootwads in the river. This slowed the current and provided a pool for fish to hang out and rest in. In West Virginia, if one placed a rootwad the size of the above pic, you would dam the river.

18 May 2007

State of Fear

Just now. . .(5 minutes ago). . .got hold of Crichton's book here. I have drunk the coffee, adjusted the lighting, removed the dust jacket. . .and will now. . .(in 5 minutes). . .read about global warming and conspiracies.

Life is officially good.

(Does anybody know what 'Windows is increasing your virtual memory' mean? I hope it's not a pop-up ad)

17 May 2007

Palantir Making 101

Ever want to make a real-live palantir? Guaranteed to make the make the ladies swoon like Gandalf.

Kludge has posted a link on how to do this.

The Crass Class Crayola Caste Case Society

We had a visitor recently-a little black boy named Jacobi. He likes to hang out with my sister, especially since she feeds the little guy ice cream. He also enjoys jumping on beds, knocking houseplants over with the remote-control Hummer, making funny faces in the mirror while singing funny little songs, and chewing crayons. He also thinks my weight bench is either a car, or a horse. . .we're not sure which.

I thought about my own child experience with crayons. Really quite traumatic, but I have since recovered. Every year, we were given a list of essentials for school; pens, papers, pencils, crayons, the newest Trapper-Keeper (remember these? They always trapped and kept my homework for weeks. . .hidden and lost), glue, etc. Now at Barrackville Elementary, we had a caste system based on crayons.


The Lower Class Crayola Caste: These people had your basic eight colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and purple) plus black, white, and gray.

The Middle Class Crayola Caste: These were your Blue Bourgeois Bills and Pink Proletarian Pams. The middies could splurge a little. In addition to roy g. bip and the generics, they owned your heavy metals (gold, silver, copper), mustard, charcoal, teal, aquamarine, and various flesh tones (tan, sepia, light brown, indian red.)

The Aristoclass Crayola Caste: Remember these people? Yeah, the ones with the 120-color-Big-Kahuna-all-you-can-see-colorized-pallet-buffet-smorgasboard of visual delights. You had your periwinkles, your mauves, your ochres. . .chartreuse, scarlet red. These people had colors that didn't even exist in nature. . .esoteric orange, purple mountain majesty..........helloooooo. You hear what I'm saying! Some pot-smoking hippy chemist from Haight-Ashbury mixing chemicals. Taking FD & C # 3 Red and bathing it with radiation. Mixing Uranium isotopes in with the copper. We're talking Fushia Phils, Sepia Sams, your Magenta Marys. . .and if that wasn't enough. They didn't even call gray-gray.

Called it grey. Spelt like the Queen of England spells it. Another slight at us outcast Lower Class Crayola Casters! You know what I'm saying!

Yeah, yeah. I remember those days. How Mauvelaus Mahogany Maude would sidle up to me in art class, toss her curls, and nonchalantly twirl one of her golden locks with a 'burnt sienna.'

"My trees are ochre and chartreuse. What are yours?"

"Green and Brown," I mumbled while staring at the floor in shame came my less than colorful reply.

"Figures. You're parents just don't luv you like mine. Besides, you're probably. . .ya know. . .adopted. . ."

13 May 2007

12,190 days old and counting

Make that 12,190. . .I like even numbers. As odd as that may be. Unless they're prime numbers. . .small prime numbers. Like 7 or 3. Sometimes 11 amuses me, but I always feel like I'm missing something.

The Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic shows that the primes are the building blocks of the positive integers: every positive integer is a product of prime numbers in one and only one way. I do not know how that works right off hand, so don't make me explain it to you. I need a nap.

232582657-1<----- This, btw, is the largest known prime number.

(This should be 2 to the 32582657th power minus 1)

12 May 2007

I am 12,189 days old

Found this on a most interesting blog today.

This here revolutionary calculate the number of days since whatever floats you're boat thingamajig gives you the number of days since a certain event happened (Did I just write a run-on sentence???)

Does it seem like people always say the say exact thing over and over again, if not everyday, but at discrete intervals, like, say. . .every three days. . .always repeating themselves because it must seem like the thing to do cause, after all. . .nothing new happens under the sun. Everything repeats repeats repeats itself, always. Like Groundhog Day. People always do this I notice. Always saying, "Boy, this week sure went by quickly. Did it seem fast to you?" (This is what one of my co-workers says every single week without fail on Thursday night.) It's like clockwork, predictable clockwork. Not talking cuckoo clockwork, but atomic clock thinking here. I mean, people always say the same things. Is there nothing else going on in the Universe? There must be. If not here, then in some obscure place like Borneo. Actually, I think people repeat themselves much more in Borneo. After all, they're barely out of the Stone Age in Borneo and I know things haven't changed much over there.

"So, Taku, thing it'll rain today?"
"Prolly so Bill, rainy season ya know. Always does in rainy season."

Things, LIFE, should not be this way. Every day should give people something to talk about, no matter how insignificant. Good things. . .not "Let's give them something to talk about" types of things which seem to be quite the thing nowadays. God is doing a new thing, said somebody in a wave of revelation once upon a morning dreary. . .unless it was in a desert. . .if it was in a desert, that man must have had faith in God.

11 May 2007

Watchman Nee

This is one of those books that all Christians should read. I do not think that much of it would make sense to a non-Christian, therefore I do not recommend it to them. In a nutshell, it discusses the tripartite nature of man. His spirit, soul, and body. . .in great detail. Most people have a great deal of difficulty discerning the differences between the three. This should not be so.

I first read it about ten years ago, and honestly, there were many sections which I knew to be true intuitively, but it was very difficult to accept. Things that all Christians should know, and do know, but purposely do not recall and repress, which leads of course to a less than optimal life here on good ole' planet Earth.

There are very very few books out there I think every Christian should have, but this is on that should be sitting on your coffee table. Another is 'Mere Christianity' by C.S. Lewis.

I might post today

I have had a headache for almost three days now. Sometimes it goes away, but only for a few hours. Is it the heat? Stress? Work-related chemicals stained on my clothes? Pollen?

Who knows. I have a remedy for getting rid of pesky headaches. 1st you take two advil, second you drink a carbonated beverage (this is to facilitate the drugs entrance into the bloodstream. . .because of the CO2). Then you drink a glass of water and run 6-8 miles fairly hard. The first 1-2 miles can be pretty painful, but once the blood flow increases, you feel better. I should note that only running does this. Weight-lifting and bicycling do not. . .they only increase the pain. Shortly after the running, you eat something. With a little protein in it-not much. It should be easily digestible and most definately not come from a fast food establishment. Spaghetti works good.

I have decided to run a marathon. Probably not for at least one year. The goal is 3 hours. Note: I intend to run a marathon, not race one. The main reason is to get back into shape, so I figure that if I can run 26.2 miles non-stop in 180 minutes, I will be in good shape.

I think I'm in fairly good shape right now, certainly better than most people. But, I remember the times when I would go out and run a sub-5-minute mile and it felt ridiculously easy. I want to be able to do this again. Only this time, I hope not to be so obsessive compulsive about my training.

08 May 2007

Go away. I am a mean person.

Saturday Night. 9:03 PM. Chesapeake, Virginia. Dark and Stormy Night. 'Knock! Knock!' Visitors. I put down my current read. 'Novel Role for Aeromonas jandaei as a Digestive Tract Symbiont of the North American Medicinal Leech.' [ed. note: get out more] I look through my peephole and see an eyeball. I simultaneously laugh and fear. I figure it's Sauron, a homeless man seeking shelter, or one of my sister's friends. I crack open the door.

"Boo!" says an obese black man with ugly tie and cheap cologne. "Didn't scare ya did I?"

"No. I'm glad you're not the Dark Lord of Mordor."

Perplexation. Amusation. Continuation. . .of conversation. The man holds a bottle of pink fluid in my face.

"Do you know what is in this bottle?

"No, but I'm sure it'll kill me if I drink it. Do you know what's in that bottle?"

More perplexation. "This is the best cleaning product money can buy."

He whips out a tattered sheet of paper which looks remarkably like one of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Upon closer examination, I see a shopping list for Home Depot. . .in English. I hide my disappointment at not seeing household appliances in ancient Hebrew.

"Sorry, Buddy. But I just bought-this very morning-some cleaning supplies from Wal-Mart. Most of which I didn't really need."

"Ahhh, man," quoth the black man. "You sure? It's the perfect chemical."

"No, chicle is the perfect chemical. That's what chewing gum is made of. Chicle is like squid, except chicle grows in trees and won't squirt you with ink. Nor will a chicle tree try to eat you should you fall overboard."

"Um. . .OK. . .Thanks, though. Oh. . .and God Bless you."

He picks his (still smoking) cigarette wedged in my window pane and trudges off into the night.

05 May 2007

El cinq de Mai

Because El Cinco de Mayo sounds like a sandwich. . .in case ya wanna know

More moving news: After reading a ridiculous number of Washington blogs, probably more than the FBI, I have a picture of your average Washingtonian.

-Everybody works for Boeing, Microsoft, or in the lumber industry.
-Like the English, (btw, Queen Elizabeth II came over the other day) everybody reads books and writes.
-Pacific Northwesterners are mellow. It's like they're all secretly desiring to be wildlife biologists.
-Everybody has pale skin and needs Vitamin D supplements due to the lack of sunshine.

Nobody on the East coast ever mentions Washington in casual conversation. Makes one wonder what they're doing way up there in their corner of the continent. Being quiet, never saying anything, pretending to be Canadians, drinking coffee, wearing parkas.

It's like Maine-without the moose. Maine. . .cold, stark, severe, barren. . .Maine. Might as well say you're from Iceland.

We know orcas live in Washington. We see them on Animal Planet eating seals. Washington orcas are dangerous. Much more so than Shamu and co.

What with the orcas in the ocean and Bigfoot on the land, what do Washingtonians do? I think they go salmon fishing on the Columbia River. Cause everyone knows gorillas won't cross a river and rivers are too shallow for orcas.

Growing up, I thought WA kids very brave living with Bigfoot prowling and lurking. I got a little concerned after reading a book about the creature, sat down, and calculated the minimum amount of time it would take me to run to the bus stop should hirsute Harry let chase from the woods behind my house.

I figured 10 seconds to spare under ideal conditions.

Note: The red squiggly line would have been the most logical path for the beast to travel. And yes, I do have alot of free time.

03 May 2007

Why some people should never become parents

"This little piggy went to market.'
"This little piggy stayed home."
"And this little piggy was used as a test animal in a baseline forensic entomology study. . .we'll not say what happened to him."

No toy has stimulated young adolescent minds like the model rocket. Gunpowder, I've always said, should never be sold legally to minors in the form of engines designed to propel miniature ICBM's to little boys.

(Former model rocketeer???)

Building model rockets was a hobby of mine. Truthfully, I would sit in my bedroom for days constructing the things until my parents forced me to eat. . .and to air out the glue and paint fumes. At first, I put the rockets together as the directions said.

Then. . .came the modifications.

One I built was called the 'mosquito.' It stood 3 inches tall and shot 300 ft in the air. This took every bit of 0.3 seconds . . . about the speed of a bullet.

Another nameless creation sped 100 ft in the air, spun around in mad circles, and exploded into a shower of sparks above a crowd of students and one teacher. They all cheered. Unfortunately, it was not designed to do this.

Another rocket was designed to do this. I surgically removed the propellant from one engine, and added it with the propellant from a second engine, and filled in the empty spaces with gunpowder (gotten from some shotgun shells and a certain friend who shall remain nameless lest his parents are internet-saavy blog readers.) This was designed to go up a thousand feet and explode in a blaze of glory, with the remnant falling gently to the ground in a parachute. Unfortunately, the nose cone was glued on and what could be described as a semi-harmless toy, evolved into a one-foot-long projectile weapon of least destruction. It landed 1/2 a mile from the elementary school, and for I know, is still embedded in the roof of a grouchy old man.

My greatest creation was the eight-foot-tall cardboard mock German V-2. It was so big, it couldn't fit through my bedroom door. It had to be lowered to the ground from my window.
The V-2 didn't actually get off the ground-just shook a little bit and made a small crater in the backyard. My parents often wondered at this large blackened area. When questioned, I merely shrugged and said it could have been a lightening strike.

The shoulder mounted rocket launcher: My mom took one look at this and asked what it was.

She shrieked.

I thought having a hand-made shoulder mounted rocket launcher would be neat to try. . .after all, don't kids in Afghanistan play with these things?

Alas, the greatest project never came to be. It was stopped dead in it's tracks at the hobby store. The parents dropped me off here to amuse me. They asked if I found anything I liked. I made a list. . .10 feet of plastic tubing, model airplane fuel, some large sheets of balsa wood, 2 or 3 metal pipes. . .the lights went off, bells chimed, and parental instincts kicked in.

"Building something, Jason?"
"Yeah. I designed a surface-to-air missile and just needed a few things."

My goal, see, was the Atlantic Ocean. . .400 miles away.

I'm surprised my parents aren't addicted to prescription drugs.