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The Beast

Uncle B heard the most horrible galomphing up and down the roof today. Her ran out to find…this.

I really like the full size, color version. It’s like one of those Find the Hidden Pictures thing you used to see in Highlights for Children in the dentist’s office (if that made sense to you, you are American. And old).

Can you spot: a wheelbarrow? A chicken house? A fallen tile? A sheep? A holly bush? A lavender? A fruit cage? A hop vine? The first daffodil of Spring?

And some horrible child had always drawn a circle around all the right answers in crayon.

February 13, 2019 — 8:46 pm
Comments: 15

The heartbreak of fish breath







Images from the Comedy Wildlife Competition.

Given the mission statement, I was kind of hoping for a better selection of funnies, but they’re mostly fairly meh. Still, I’ll look at animal pitchers all day long.










January 29, 2019 — 8:59 pm
Comments: 5

Cat picture for scale

So the printer sent me a note today — that big job I was working on last week — saying they couldn’t work with jpegs, could I send .pdfs?

Easy, I thought. I went to pdf school back in the day, I thought. I got this.

Well, not so easy. All the built-in ‘print to pdf’ options only recognize standard copier paper size. These are big posters. But it’s all print to file, so it should be easy to make a custom paper size, right? Nope.

Back when I was in pdf school (she said, leaning back and hooking her thumbs in her lapels), when we ran into a thorny problem, we’d load a generic postscript printer driver, print to .ps file, edit the .ps file in a text editor and use Adobe Distiller to convert to .pdf. Doesn’t look like I can recreate that process without joining up to the dreaded Creative Cloud.

Or maybe I could, but I got tired of chasing my tail. What I did was print to copier paper size at an obscenely high resolution. I hope that translates to big poster at a normal dpi.

Also, I took a snapshot of the kitten with my phone.

January 28, 2019 — 10:40 pm
Comments: 17

Stretched a little thin tonight

Brought work home again tonight. I think I’m more or less done at last, but at least I got an excuse to make a skinny weasel joke out of it.

January 23, 2019 — 10:27 pm
Comments: 8

Word of the day: blatticulturist

For the Love of Cockroaches: Husbandry, Biology, and History of Pet and Feeder Blattodea

Hardcover – 18 Sep 2017
by Orin McMonigle (Author), Jonathan Lai (Foreword), Louis M. Roth (Contributor)

The amazing diversity of color and form in cockroaches around the world has rarely been displayed to the average animal enthusiast. Several well known species have been bred for decades as feeder insects for reptiles and other exotic pets, but there has only been a handful of dedicated blatticulturists keeping and breeding a wider range of species for sheer enjoyment. As exotic cockroaches receive more attention, more and more people are trying their hand at them, but with very little attention given to these creatures in the popular literature. That changes now, as Orin McMonigle shares his enthusiasm and wealth of knowledge in this new book, For the Love of Cockroaches. Orin provides experienced instruction for proper housing, feeding, and breeding cockroach species, followed by details on the many species available to enthusiasts (illustrated in full color). At 350 pages, this is the definitive cockroach manual for anyone branching out into these fascinating insects.

Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 reviews

Beautiful book and everything you need to know to keep cockroaches successfully
14 August 2016 – Published on Amazon.com
In my opinion, this is Orin McMonigles best book yet! It is enjoyable to read and look through and covers the basics of cockroach biology and their history with humankind. Most important, this book contains extensive information on keeping cockroaches as pets or as feeders for other pets — although if you start off keeping them only as feeders, I’ll bet these wonderful creatures will win you over into keeping them for their own sake as well. 😉 I have found the extensive species-specific information very interesting and helpful and am grateful that the author took the time to include photos of each species, as well as the many other beautiful photos throughout the book.

Highly recommended!
11 people found this helpful.

I was only looking for an automatic chicken feeder.

January 8, 2019 — 7:41 pm
Comments: 18

Wounded warrior

No, we’re not starting 2019 off with an injury. Jack got hurt before Christmas and is very much on the mend now, thenkyewverymuch.

Something clamped down on his back leg a couple of days before Christmas. I won’t describe the wound; it was gross. The vet thought a cat or dog, but it seems an awfully big hole for a cat and there are no strange dogs in our neighborhood.

Anyway, they wanted to perform surgery on him on Christmas Eve, but I didn’t allow it. If something were to go wrong, there would be no-one to turn to for two days. Last time they put him under, he woke up trippin’.(I was going to say trippin’ balls, but that seems kind of a mean way to describe a neutering).

We took him in as soon as the office was back open, and they conceded that he was healing nicely and probably wouldn’t need the surgery after all. At any rate, I’ve spent an otherwise delightful Christmas poking antibiotics down the cat.

Happy new year, y’all. If you didn’t see London’s fireworks, they were particularly good this time. Despite attempts to politicize them by making the London Eye look like the EU flag.

Oh, you want your moment of schadenfreude? Before the fireworks, the announcer called it the “Coca Cola London Eye.”


January 1, 2019 — 9:05 pm
Comments: 21


This came across my Facebook this evening from a photomicrography group I belong to. Mixed diatoms from the Gulf of Thailand at 20x magnification.

Diatoms, if high school biology seems a long, long time ago, are microalgae that live mostly in water. Actually, these are dead diatom skeletons, which are made of silicon. Diatoms make 20% of the world’s oxygen and comprise almost half the organic stuff in the ocean. Also, they’re purty.

I have now done everything I intend to do in aid of that Christmas thing — which mostly involved tidying the kitchen this evening. Tomorrow, I have an hour’s work, an hour’s coffee with my colleagues and then I’m off until January 3.

But I’ll be here if you’re looking for me.

December 20, 2018 — 9:23 pm
Comments: 10


He probably didn’t think he needed fixing.

It was a little scary for a while. This morning, they said to expect to hear from them at 1:30. We didn’t. When we called, they said he was fine…and we could come at 5:30, and then they kept us waiting.

I suspect he didn’t come out of the anesthesia as fast as expected. When we finally saw the vet, she said something like, “the important thing is that he’s awake now.”

After Jack had his op, he was out of his head for twelve hours. Climbing the walls, crying to get out. It was awful. If they were waiting for Booboo to sober up a little, I’m all for it.

Anyway, he was wobbly for an hour, but he’s fine now. Except his pupils are the size of dinner plates and he stinks of disinfectant. Oh, and…no balls.

December 4, 2018 — 9:29 pm
Comments: 12


In the prior thread, Wolfus asked if “lossy” was a Britishism. It ain’t. And because I’m desperate for stuff to post about at the moment, I shall explain what it is.

“Generation loss” is a thing in graphic arts. It means that every time you make a copy of something — every time it goes down a generation — it loses quality. If you have an illustration, and you photograph it, and then you do a color separation, and then you print it in a magazine…every stage of that process involves a degradation of the original.

Then if you make a photocopy of the magazine article and digitize it to put in your slide presentation…don’t laugh. I often deal with images that are many generations removed from the original.

That’s generation loss; the term “lossy” is used specifically for digital file formats.

The Targa tiff file — which you may never have run across — was a common early digital file format that purported to be lossless. In theory, you could make a tif file of a tif file and every one was as good as the original. Downside: they were huge.

Lots of file formats have used all sorts of clever algorithms to try to squeeze file size without losing quality.

The jpg file came to rule them all because it’s very, very good at the trade off…it can look very good, or it can compress very small, or it can be a compromise, depending on what you ask it to do. That’s what it’s asking when a graphics program gives you a jpg quality slider.

The image at right is a jpg compressed at a quality of about 70% (100% means very little loss, very little compression) and it’s about 36K on the disk. The inset is compressed at around 10% (lots of loss, lots of compression) and is about 7K.

Notice the characteristic big square blocks that are the hallmark of jpg compression. I bet you’ve seen that before! Different lossy formats are ugly in different ways and when I get my Photoshop back, I can show you.

That’s not my big white rooster, by the way. That’s my old lavender hen Violence (may she rest in peace). I’ve had three lavender chickens, and they’ve all hated me.

November 28, 2018 — 9:32 pm
Comments: 7

Don’t rub it in

Somebody sent me this. It comes from our popular classical station, Classic FM, via a Tumblr called Music Theory. I think I have all that right. I like to attribute where I can.

Those are Polands. I have whined before about how much I want one. I got some ‘fertile’ eggs that weren’t this Spring, supposedly including at least one Poland.

Note, at right, they have a knob on their skulls that those stupid feathers sprout out of. So even when they’re tiny fluffy chicks, they have ridiculous hairdos.

The roosters grow up to look like potted ferns and the hens have fluffy afros. I know owners who have to trim around their eyes or tie their headfeathers into hipster buns so the poor birds can see to walk around.

Oops! I hit premature PUBLISH. Well, that’s all there is to say about that, I guess.

November 8, 2018 — 4:53 pm
Comments: 8