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By request

RD Brewer wrote and asked if I was gonna do a P’shop of Chelsea Clinton’s Elle cover. Dude, I didn’t know there was one! Yup. Here it is.

If only I could think of some way to parody it.

April 11, 2015 — 7:16 pm
Comments: 29

It’s what’s for dinner

Well, it’s safe to say our snooky-ookums has developed a taste for rodent. First, stealing them out of traps and now this. I came around the corner the other day just in time to see the last of a tail slithering down his gullet. So Jack, like Charlotte, quietly kills and eats rather than bringing us gifts. We never know how many mice she catch and we won’t know with him, either.

Pretty good on the old girl for managing to eat them, since she’s had all her teeth extracted. You don’t want me to describe how she does it.

Photo is Uncle B’s. He also got a cracking few minutes video of Jack making love to the corpse with dead, staring eyes (Jack’s, not the mouse).

Good weekend, y’all!

April 10, 2015 — 9:54 pm
Comments: 8

Just a little off the top

Welp, we had our drive pollarded today, six years almost to the day since the last time. Partly done — he’ll come back to do the one on the right and collect the wood too small to be useful.

Pollarding is where you lop the branches off a tree and make really tall stumps. Coppicing is where you lop the branches off and make really short stumps.

We had a tree guy tell us that, in the ordinary course of things, most trees will live a few hundred years at most and then die. But a regularly pollarded tree is, for all intents, immortal. Something about trimming back all its branches makes the tree a sort of perpetual adolescent, biologically. Also, no big heavy branches to weigh it down or split it open.

Usually, the cuts are closer to the trunk, but our professional tree guy was a no-show. This dude is a local handyman sort and he was up there with a hand-saw. I think he was having trouble trimming them any shorter with the equipment he had. Holy shit but he worked hard, though! And now our drive is full of willow fronds.

It’s Spring here. It really feels it now. Has it reached you yet?

April 9, 2015 — 10:11 pm
Comments: 16

…that is all…

I was going to ask how I missed this creepy bunny, but I chased it up and found I missed it because it’s three years old.

More creepy Easter bunnies. How do they allus get the Easter Bunny so wrong?

April 8, 2015 — 7:28 pm
Comments: 5

Animal adventures

First thing this morning:

ME: Why is the cabinet by the sink open? And why is the mousetrap way across the room over there on the floor?
HIM: Oh, I forgot to tell you. I caught a mouse in the trap last night.
ME: There’s no mouse in that trap.
BOTH: Ewwwwwww.

To be fair, there was a little bit of mouse in the trap. Yeah, Jack pinched Uncle B’s mouse. The least he could’ve done was catch the damn thing hisself. And Uncle B was saving it for breakfast and everything.

Then I was walking to work and something ran up the path at me. Rat? Thinks I. No, stoat! My very first live stoat in the wild! It turned and rippled across the road, and I saw the long, sinuous body and the chocolate tip on his tail!

And then later, pheasant. In our back yard. Those things don’t half make an ugly noise! Majestic beasties, but dull as a sack of wet mice.

So I found you this sculptcha to go with my story. A steal at $6,490! (Yeah, I’d pay it. I like it. Why am I not rich?).

April 7, 2015 — 9:35 pm
Comments: 9

it’s incredibly worrying when the bedbird tucks you in

Very funny. Two monks invent a bestiary. Well, I laughed.

Technically still holiday here. I slept past noon all four days of the long weekend. And you know what? I totally threw my back out doing it. Lying around in bed and sitting around in front of the computer too much.

How in the heck am I going to get up early and hoof it to work tomorrow?

April 6, 2015 — 8:05 pm
Comments: 3

Guess who!

Recognize this monster? No? This is a statue of Lucille Ball in her birth town of Celoron, N.Y. A thing to frighten naughty children with.

See, this is what happens when you stop giving art students years of rigorous drawing instruction and then demand realism from them.

Easter is a major holiday here; four day weekend and everything. So it’s back to loafing for me!

Good weekend and happy Easter!

April 3, 2015 — 7:49 pm
Comments: 19

Well, the SS would take me

And there it is. It’s a color-coded pie chart showing the different components of my ancestry. The charts come in three flavors: conservative (90% confidence, but boringly generic), standard (75% confidence and a little more detail) and speculative (51% confidence but breaks it out by country as best it can).

This bit is wobbly science at the moment. They have to decide at the outset the time period they’re trying to tweeze out of the data. 23andme concentrates on what of your DNA dates from the last 500 years. Other services (and, yes, you can submit your raw data to many other services, some free) looks at ancient DNA, or specifically European DNA, or…well, lots of things. These filters are evolving (and, one hopes, improving constantly).

Anyway, I am (more or less) 99.7% European, of which 46.5% British. A little less Brit than I thought, but I did have a German great grandfather and a French one. Also, apparently, their specific model for British/Irish and French/German is not very good (hence the way all four are lumped together).

What’s that? The other 3%? Those little strips of different color at noon? Um, one each of Ashkenazi, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. That’s, um, not necessarily what it looks like. It may mean 3% of the DNA was too old to slot into a European framework and so pointed to older DNA from nearer the human diaspora. Or it could mean my great-great-great grandmother slept with a mixed race field hand.

You choose!

April 2, 2015 — 9:46 pm
Comments: 11

adorbs

That there is a rescue badger being raised by a retired farmer. She’s raising three on milk and custard creams. Custard creams are a kind of vanilla cookie — when you get ‘tea and biscuits’ here, the biscuit is likely to be a custard cream (or a digestive).

I knew an old man in the mountains many years ago. He was very nearly pure Cherokee Indian, and he surely looked it. He found a baby groundhog once and raised it as a pet.

He fed it nothing but Little Debbie’s Oatmeal Creme Pies. Nothing. But. Because the groundhog loved them so. After two years, it had a seizure and died.

Like, no shit. I think about this whenever confronted with the numinous red man, the archetypal Indian with his spiritual connection to nature and the land. Even a Neanderthal like me knows a groundhog needs to eat a fucking vegetable now and then.

There were more interesting stories in the news, but it’s April 1, so I didn’t trust any of them to be true.

April 1, 2015 — 8:47 pm
Comments: 18

Ook ook

Welp, there it is. My DNA results are just now dribbling in (it’ll be a few days before I have everything), but that’s the number I was waiting for. A bit below the European average of 2.7%, actually. Kind of disappointed. I’ve seen it reported as high as 3.5% in the genetic forums and I was hoping to be Neanderthal as hell.

Other than this, I only have my raw data. But that’s cool — you can take the raw data and upload it to tons of third party analyst programs — places like Nutrahacker, GEDmatch and Promethease — and they’ll sift it for all sorts of shit.

A lot of the results are very weak correlations (a 1.2-fold increase in the likelihood of somethingorother) and very preliminary connections, but they’re updating what they know all the time, so your results are fluid. It’s exciting.

They absolutely nailed the things I already know — eye color, hair color, skin color, high blood pressure, psoriasis. Male pattern baldness (sorry, bro). Many of the things I worried about don’t look as bad as I feared.

More ancestry analysis comes next. I’ll keep you posted.

March 31, 2015 — 9:44 pm
Comments: 21