Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
A new paper reports on an incredible collection of aquatic fossils from Cerro Ballena, Chile. Spanish speakers who can translate Cerro Ballena to Whale Hill might hazard a guess at what fossils were found.
Such a fine collection of fossils is called a lagerstätte and can reveal a lot about the environment at the time.
Under a deadline due to the impending highway construction that revealed the lagerstätte, the research team relied more on 3-D virtualization than on old-fashioned digging.
Because these fossils are relatively recent, they don’t reveal much about whale evolution, but research did teach me one thing I never knew before: the phrase “aquatic sloths”.
I went to the fantastic Web site the team put together. Not only can you download the 3-D models of some of the specimens, but you can cruise a list of all of them. Near the bottom, you can find Thalassocnus natans, the aquatic sloth.
Aquatic sloths were not small animals. I could not find a published estimate of their size, but I did find an unofficial estimate: six feet long and up to 500 pounds. Here’s a photo of the skeleton (click to enlarge):
And a couple of artists’ depictions:
Note the snout elongation from the first depiction of an older species to the second, more derived species.
The driving force that led to sloths’ adopting an aquatic lifestyle (although they almost certainly came back to land after feeding, sort of the opposite of hippopotamuses) was the terrestrial environment. This area has been arid for a long time, which makes it tough for a dedicated herbivore to find enough to eat on land. Tooth wear tells us that the early aquatic sloths fed on or near shore where sand would abrade their tooth enamel. The later species show no evidence of sand abrasion and probably fed in deep water, where the sea bed is calm.
We’re still sorting through my dad’s stuff and I got my hands on a photo album that contains photos of older family, my younger brother modelling in a fashion show, and my university graduation.
Here I am in my youth and long-haired glory.
My dad in that photo is two months away from turning 48. Right now, I am one month past 48. Is it just his grey hair that makes him look so much older in the photo than I do now?
Nope – not according me, anyway. His hairline receded more than mine has. I’m not sure about the face.
Speaking of which, this may be the most recent photo I have of my dad clean-shaven.
My netsurfing today took me to Dorian de Wind’s article on Dutch Jewry in the Holocaust.
Today, Jan. 27, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a date chosen to commemorate the Red Army’s liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on Jan. 27, 1945.
De Wind’s article pointed me to the Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands, a site set up to remember Dutch Holocaust victims.
My youngest brother has for years maintained a family tree that’s been striking for the number of deaths recorded in Auschwitz and Sobibor. Click the compressed image below to see the whole thing.
I decided to test the Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands against a subset of my brother’s information, that being the nine siblings of my great-grandfather, who left Europe well before World War I (yes, WWI).
Of the nine siblings, two died in infancy. One survived the war in Europe. The other six died in then camps along with spouses and children.
Here are those six siblings:
Israël Mozes/Nijveen (57) – died in Auschwitz.
Betje Mozes (49) – died in Sobibor.
Hinderika Mozes-Zilverberg (53, the memorial site has the name wrong) – died in Sobibor; daughters Rachel (25), Anna (21), and Saartje (16) died in Auschwitz. Daughters Geertje and Sara also died, age and place unknown. Son Jacob (30 in 1945) survived.
The one sibling who survived, Charles Nijveen, lost his son Max (29) in Auschwitz. Daughter Rachel (32) died of illness in Amsterdam in 1942. Daughter Judith survived the war, and was a blast to hang out with in 1979.
On the whole, I was impressed with the work my JOUR 428 students did on their final projects last semester. I adopted a loose definition of “journalism” so not all of these are strictly news, but I enjoyed their work.
Now, you can too. Here are the links in no particular order:
- Murtazi the Martial Artist
- Portrait of Lebanon
- How Non-Profit Organizations Can Change a Child’s Life
- Final Project!
- Greek Immigration in Montreal
- Nalie’s Story
- Urban Agriculture springs up in Hochelaga
- 24 Hours as a Conjoined Twin
- Elizabeth Reichert: A WWII Story Through The Eyes of A 14-Year-Old
- Shelves and corners
- MTL Municipal Elections 2013
- Concordia Food Guide
- Microbreweries of Montreal
- Greek Food Project
Bonus fighting of the man:
This happened again. I triumphed again. I am not impressed with the record-keeping involved in the process.
I look like this:
For Halloween, I temporarily dyed my facial hair to look like Tony Stark. I looked like this:
Many people urged me to keep dyeing, so I bought Just for Men Mustache and Beard, in light brown.
I followed the instructions and left it on for five minutes. I looked like this:
I wasn’t happy with the coverage, so I dyed it again, this time leaving it on for ten minutes. I’m a daredevil. I looked like this:
Not bad, eh? I am my mother’s son. Also, I need a haircut.
I found this display in a local Michael’s.
Hopefully, when the “Charte des valeurs québécoises” become law (ha!), the store will post a guide to tell us which of these symbols is too ostentatious for government work so we can know which will keep us (university professors count!) out of jail.
Bonus iOS 7 bug:
Apparently, if you alter a playlist in iTunes, the changes will not propagate to your synced iPhone/iPad in iOS 7. You have to create a new playlist in iTunes, copy everything from the old into the new, then make your changes.
I had to rename my Top Tunes playlist to Favourites because Siri kept insisting I was asking to shuffle my non-existent Pop Tunes playlist.
As summer began I had never seen a live moose. It was somewhat embarrassing for a Canadian, so seeing a living moose was on my bucket list.
The easiest way to find a moose to look at is to find a zoo that harbours one, you’d think – but there are few zoos within driving range of Montreal and the two I know of (the Biodome and Granby Zoo) don’t have moose. Parc Safari has deer but otherwise focuses on African mammals.
To Google I went, where I discovered Parc Omega, located roughly across the Ottawa River from Hawkesbury. It’s a drive-through circuit, like Parc Safari and although it’s been around for two decades, I’d never heard of it before. It focuses on local and European fauna: a bunch of deer species; black bears; boars; wolves and foxes; etc. The park also offers overnight accommodations which are hardly necessary but which we decided to try out.
What a fantastic destination this place is. The deer and elk come right up to your car for food. Conveniently, the park’s main building sells bags of carrots for $2.50. The park warns you to keep your car windows half closed, but we preferred having the deer stick their heads in our van. The boars are also friendly, although too short to reach the windows. The ibex are a bit shyer.
The herd of bison ignores the cars but you’re not supposed to feed them anyway. I’m sure there’s a link there. Musk oxen, bears, and the wolves and foxes are penned in. You can look, but you can’t touch, or feed.
You can get very close to black bears and timber wolves on the park’s boardwalk. I’m sure they have gauged the animals’ leaping ability with some precision. Again, you are not supposed to feed them, but wild blackberry bushes grow around the base of the boardwalk supports. The bears had eaten all theirs, but we could reach some ripe berries on the wolf side. The bears would sit up and are extraordinarily good at snatching berries out of midair.
And in one pocket of the park, nearly smack dab in the middle, I saw these:
Five of us spent the night in what the park calls a prospector tent, which is really more like half a log cabin with a tent perched on top. It had real beds and a Keurig. Unfortunately, the shower is only cold and you are not allowed a fire. The tent suffered from a lack of ventilation and a clammy feel, but that’s made up for by the fallow deer in the forest around you and free access to the back side of the wolf/bear boardwalk. You’d have to pay again to get your car back in the park, though. That’s a policy the management should rethink.
Here are four dozen or so of my pics. As it turns out, everything we thought was a whitetail deer is actually an elk.
(Click to enlarge any photo.)
I don’t have cool X-rays like last time – yet – but I did break another finger. I have two small fractures, one in the finger tip and one at the proximal end of the intermediate phalanx (middle finger bone).
There’s no pain anymore. Most of the pain was emotional. I walked into Emergency at 9:55 p.m. and walked out just short of nine hours later. It had been a busy night, mostly with gastro patients who tended to vomit in the waiting room. I and my finger were low priority.
The mild pain I posted about from the waiting room had by midnight grown into real pain. The triage nurse could not give me any ibuprofen without a doctor’s permission and I was waiting to see the doctor, so I had to grin and bear it.
Once I saw the doctor, he was kind enough to get me some ibuprofen. I got the X-ray, the news, and a small splint.
What was worst about my experience was leaving the hospital to find that someone had rubbed Nibbler the wrong way.
Somehow, my allergic self has agreed to let this thing live with us permanently.
Does anybody have an in on inexpensive loratadine?
Yup, I took another softball in a fingertip.
This time, the nail didn’t split and blood didn’t spill.
It happened in the first inning of a doubleheader and had I left the game, we would have had to forfeit both games. So I moved to first base and did what I could.
Batting, I had even less power than I normally do and my finger would occasionally hurt like hell. It’s bearable otherwise, like a mild headache.
Nevertheless, I feel I should get it checked out so I’m sitting in Emergency, waiting for an X-ray at least.