Friday, August 24, 2012

Don't Piss Off the Diva Dogs

Cinco says WTF?
This weekend, Cinco and I are hosting some unexpected visitors. I'm more excited about this than Cinco seems to be, I have to admit. My long lost friend Linda came up for the weekend and where ever she goes, so goes her little doggie, The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Cinco and Molly have long been friends, though they have some sort of unspoken mutual Diva understanding between them about which human belongs to who, and just how much attention mongering will be tolerated. If either Linda or myself step out of line, we get shunned by the Divas who then go off and sulk together. Let's not tell them how humorous we find this, shall we?
Molly Christmas Morning 2008

The wild card in the mix is my pet sitting client's new Great Dane Puppy, Otter. Poor boy is clueless when it comes to the rules. Any rules. And certainly any rules involving Divas. Otter is only three months old, not yet old enough for overnights alone, so I agreed to keep him at my house for the weekend. He is a rambunctious little guy, but oh my gosh what a sweet cuddler. This is not going over well with either of the Diva dogs. Both have made it clear they are no longer speaking to the humans in the house, nor each other, and the only things they've had to say to the pesky newcomer have not been kind. I tried to get a current picture of Molly to share, but she effectively gave the paparazzi the doggy finger. Apparently, there will be no pictures while we have that thing in the house!

Otter with Linda

Poor Otter. He just wants to be loved. Is that so much to ask? Anyway, my hands will be full this weekend. Good thing there is a kennel for the puppy and a baby gate to separate everyone. Lesson learned. Never piss of the Diva Dogs. 

Otter Loves Me!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Three Cheers for Biomimicry!

What, pray tell, is Biomimicry? Well, it's this cool thing scientists, engineers, and even architects are doing. They study things found in nature, and try to use them to design new technologies. Here are some well-known examples straight from Science Daily:
Velcro was inspired by cockleburs, which cling tenaciously to clothing and animal fur. This poor guy probably had to have his head shaved.

Both Leonardo da Vinci and the Wright brothers studied the flight of birds when designing their flying machines.

Sonar was inspired by how whales, dolphins and bats emit high-pitched sounds and analyze the returning echoes to help them navigate.

And now, apparently, scientists are creating robots that mimic cockroaches to traverse deep sand and mud, while others mimic spider crabs and will be able to walk gingerly across loose surfaces like sand and gravel. This is the sort of research that is helping our Curiosity rover wander Mars and collect data for us. It may be the kind of research that will one day help our future vehicles travel the planet without the need for a concrete jungle to drive and park on. We could walk/ride across the miles without the need to pave it. This I like. Though, perhaps the idea of more cockroaches, even if they are robotic...not so much. Make the jump to Science Daily and watch the cool video on this project. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Curiosity Coolness

The Curiosity on the Surface of Mars. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltach/University of Arizona

I'm sure you must know by now that the Curiosity has safely landed on Mars and NASA's Mars Science Lab is now up and running. So far, it's been a bit slow going while the massive crew of scientists run their tests and make sure Curiosity is fully functional. But, a few fantastic images have already started rolling in. This latest image above is a high resolution view of the curiosity on the surface of Mars. That tiny blue dot. And you can make out the blast pattern surrounding it, made from the landing of the rover. I have to tell you, this stuff gets me all excited. I'm literally squeeing over here when I go to NASA's mission sight and find these cool images. I thought I'd share a couple. Below is one of the first high res images taken by Curiosity of it's view on the surface of Mars. Look at those mountains. Wow! How amazing are we that there are people who can build this stuff and go off exploring other planets with it? Thanks to all you tech savvy computer geeky scientist types who work on this project. You are the coolest!

Curiosity's View of Mars. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltach
This is the kind of stuff that has inspired me to write Science Fiction since I was a kid. I mean, I used to pretend to be sick so I could stay home and watch the Space Shuttle's launch and I would sit and make up stories about what would happen while they were out in space. Sorry for lying to you, Mom. As I've grown older, my stories tend to focus more on humans and what humans might become if they could only tap into more of their brain power. You can actually read one of those stories online over at The Ravens Crossing, a science fiction project I am writing for with two other authors, Andi Lea and West Thornhill. Anyway, this is the kind of thing that sparks my imagination. Who knows what they might discover next. But, it sure is fun to dream about what that might be.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Baby Gorilla Born Saturday at NC Zoo

Congratulations are in order to twelve-year-old Jamani of the NC Zoo who gave birth to a bouncing baby boy gorilla this past Saturday at 8 am. Good friend Tom Gillespie has shared some of the latest photos with me today. The baby has been named Bomassa after a town of the same name in the northern Republic of the Congo. Welcome Bomassa and congrats to the staff of the NC Zoo who have not seen a baby gorilla born at their park since Kwanza was birthed back in 1989.

Also, The Ravens Crossing (TRC), the free science fiction online series I write for began Season 2 today. If you haven't been following along, you are seriously missing out. Go find out what a Gaea is, and how they are related to humans. Visit Wildwood and meet our diverse cast of characters. Find out how they Balance the power of nature. You can read  free stories 6 days a week here. Season 1 is also posted on the sight in case you need to catch up. Don't miss the fun!

And, if travel blogs interest you, you might want to go give Old Pair of Jeans a read. It's my mom and her man sharing their adventures as they cross the US in an RV this summer. They are all the way across the Mississippi already. You can follow along and view Gene's fantastic photography to share their favorite adventures along the way.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Baby Booms and Backing Baboons

There are a plethora of babies at the NC Zoo this season. And no, I am not going to show you more of Juma the giraffe, though I admit to being tempted. You can see her here if you missed my earlier posts. Instead, I thought you might like a catch a glimpse of Nori who is turning two this year. If you've been following along, you got to see her infant pictures here. I'm told she's exactly the way a baby chimp should be, rambunctious and a bit spoiled. She has that cute vibe going for her, that's for sure.
Photo courtesy of Tom Gillespie
Also, my friend over at the NC Zoo sent me a fantastic photo of one of the baby kudus out exploring brave new worlds. It's not often you get to see the babies out and about. They hide a lot. This is one of three baby kudus born at the zoo in the last two months, along with two baby fringe-eared oryx. The African Plains exhibit is booming this year, so if you visit the zoo make sure you spend extra time at the overlooks in case you are lucky enough to catch a baby up and nursing or exploring.
Photo courtesy of Tom Gillespie
And in other news, I am very sad to report the death of Rita Miljo, the founder of Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and Education (CARE) in Phalaborwa, South Africa. She passed away in a fire that also consumed the sanctuary headquarters, offices, and clinic. Miljo founded the clinic in 1989 and dedicated her life to rehabilitating orphaned and injured baboons and reintroducing troups back into protected areas of South Africa. Several people I know who worked with her directly speak very highly of Miljo and of the conservation center. CARE currently houses 400 chamca baboons who are in desperate need of help in rebuilding their home. If you are able, please consider making the jump to CARE's website to make a donation, no matter how small. Every penny will be most appreciated.

Many thanks to Frank Valadez and Jodi Wiley for passing this information on to me.

And last, but certainly not least, if you like science fiction and fantasy, don't miss out on The Ravens Crossing. Season 1 stories are all posted here. They are written by three authors, Amanda Corlies (me), Andi Lea, and West Thornhill. Each author's stories stand alone, but they all work together in the same universe, as well. Season 2 will begin on Monday. Flash fiction segments of our story post six days a week. You can read every bit of it for free.