Friday, February 23, 2007

dough head

ouch - maybe i should say sore head. i was just getting comfortable in my rolling office chair here at my desk - which involves tilting back against the wall. bad idea. one i'm sure i'll do again. somehow the wheels were in the wrong place and my chair rolled right out from under me. i banged my head on the wall. sadness.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


this is an article from the new york times. i laughed reading it. initially i thought to just send it to plewe, as she seems to always be huddled around her space heater, but i'm cold today and decided the masses may be as well.

February 20, 2007
A Mammal in Winter With a Furnace of Her Own
The other day a group of distraught construction workers in a Washington suburb contacted the local animal control agency with an unusual complaint. It seems there were seven large snakes wrapped around the heating pipes in a manhole, and the crew members worried that the snakes might be dangerous.

I know exactly how they felt. No, not the construction workers, who were spooked by what turned out to be a collection of commonplace and quite harmless hognose and black rat snakes. I’m talking about those poor serpents. It’s been a vicious February, and I, too, have been tempted to weld myself to my home heating unit and to remain there, motionless, until the first summer markdowns. Alas, I cannot. For one thing, my daughter is blocking the vent, and when I try to push her aside, she hisses at me.

For another, I have no good phylogenetic or metabolic excuse. I am not a reptile. I am not at the mercy of the elements, ectothermically dependent on external sources of heat to spur my every move. I make my own heat, a prodigious, endogenous internal inferno, and with that enviable talent, that ability to maintain a steady core temperature however nature’s mercury may surge or plunge, I can plan my day more cannily and venture wherever I choose. Granted, the odds of my freely choosing to gambol in the snow are roughly equivalent to Dennis Kucinich’s shot at the presidency, but I could do it. I’d much rather celebrate the delights of being a warm-blooded homeotherm by visiting the splendid Hall of Mammals at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History, which offers the added attraction of being splendidly indoors.

At the museum, visitors are reminded that mammaldom did not confer any major advantages on its earliest practitioners. The first mammals were small, nocturnal, rodentlike creatures that skittered around the feet of dinosaurs for 140 million years. But when a giant asteroid barreled into Earth 65 million years ago, tossing up a fleecy quilt of dirt and ash that blocked the Sun, cooled the planet and killed off the dinosaurs along with about 70 percent of all living species, mammals and birds with their self-sufficient thermostats were able to weather the squalls, and the two groups quickly diversified to fill the ecovoids.

Today, there are more than 5,400 members of the class Mammalia, ranging in scale from the tiny Kitti’s hog-nosed bat of Thailand, which at 1.5 grams is barely bigger than a carpenter bee, to the great blue whale, 90 feet long, 270,000 pounds heavy, and the most massive creature of any phylum ever to grace our world.

“You find mammals everywhere you look: on the ground, under the ground, near the highest mountaintops, in the sea and air, in arid deserts, superwet rainforests, on polar ice,” said Don E. Wilson, curator of mammals at the museum. “And the key to their success, the reason they are the dominant life forms in such a wide range of habitats, is their ability to maintain a steady internal body temperature almost regardless of what’s going on outside.”

With a predictably balmy internal milieu, the body’s enzymes can operate at a steady clip day and night, lending a mammal the freedom to snack, mate, bully the neighbors, sleep and snack some more as the mood strikes and opportunities arise. A reptile, by comparison, must be perpetually attentive to prevailing winds, for if it eats too much right before a cold snap, its digestive enzymes could shut down prematurely and leave a partially undigested food bolus to putrefy and possibly kill the greedy gulper.

“The more stable your interior, the more independent a life you’ll lead,” said Richard Hill, an environmental physiologist at Michigan State University.

As always, however, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and we mammals must pay for the convenience of homeothermy by eating many extra lunches. The primary way we keep our personal thermostats set to a steady 37 degrees Celsius is through the relentless combustion of calories. A mammal must consume at least 10 times as much food as a similarly sized reptile; and whereas a lizard or a turtle can transform a major portion of a meal into an increase in body mass or a fresh batch of eggs, a mammal can devote at least three-quarters of its intake to fueling its constant body temperature.

Our cellular inventory underscores this obsession with energy production: a mammalian cell is comparatively more endowed than is a reptilian cell with mitochondria, the little structures where food particles are pulverized into usable forms of cell fuel. In a sense, then, our thermal independence is like Henry Ford’s notion that customers can buy a Model T in any color they choose, so long as it’s black. Sure, a chipmunk is free to rustle around in the wintry wood, so long as it’s out there rustling for food.

Beyond our hearty appetite, our four-chambered heart lends homeothermy a hand, allowing blood en route back from the body’s cooler extremities to be stirred and rewarmed before it reaches the all-critical core. Mammals adapted to the cryonic conditions of polar life are particularly adept at micromanaging blood flow. The caribou, for example, responds to plunging temperatures by selectively constricting circulation to its legs, tail and earflaps, the better to minimize heat loss through the appendages and to focus thermal efforts on the vital organs within. A caribou’s legs often feel lizardly cool to the touch, yet the monitoring of every body part is so exquisitely controlled that nothing ever gets critically cold, and reindeer, unlike us tropically descended humans, do not get frostbite.

Still another icebreaker is shivering, the automatic, noncoordinated activation of muscle motions for the sole purpose of generating heat. Small mammals like mice and woodchucks supplement meat-shaking with fat-baking. After a few days in the cold, they’ll sprout specialized shoulder pads of so-called brown adipose tissue, which, unlike ordinary white fat, is crisscrossed with blood vessels and nerves and thus can be stimulated and chemically burned to make heat.

Nor should we neglect that quintessentially mammalian trait, our hair, which, at the behest of tiny piloerector muscles at the base of each strand, can puff up to trap pockets of still air, one of the finest insulators known. Of course, we humans have lost our fur and are left out in the cold with nothing but goose bumps, driven to desperate acts like stealing the pelts or feathers of others, or sneaking into some cozy manhole when no one is around.


so on cindy's blog i read about the chinese astrology. i always get a kick out of it since i'm a rat. here's what the site she referenced said about rats like me:

Rat people are born under the sign of charm and aggressiveness. They are expressive and can be talkative sometimes. They like to go to parties and spend quiet times chatting with their friends. Although the Rat can be quiet sometimes, it is rare to catch a Rat sitting quietly.
Rat people usually have more acquaintances than real friends and they revere and cherish those close to them. Once you become their real friends, they will treat you as their family. Rats are self-contained and keep problems to themselves. And even though they can be talkative sometimes, they never confide in anyone.

Sometimes mean, narrow-minded and suburban in outlook, Rat people are nevertheless honest. They can always make a success of their lives as long as they manage to master their perpetual discontent and their insistence on living for the present moment.

The Rat is quick-witted. Most rats get more accomplished in 24 hours than the rest of us do in as many days. They are confident and usually have good instinct. Stubborn as they are, they prefer to live by their own rules rather others. It won't be an easy task to work with Rat people, why? Simple, because they are also 100% perfectionists.

They are very organized and talented, perhaps that is why the Rat makes a good businessman or politician. Unfortunately, as soon as the Rat earns money, he spends it. Maybe that explains why the Rat is so careful when he lends money to others. If you ever borrow money from the Rat, don't be surprised by the high-interests.

The Rat is not romantic, but he is sensual and loving. Rat people could be hard to see through at first glance, because they are also very protective, but even though they are not easy but they are worth it - ask anyone who has a Rat for a lover, parent, child or friend. They are very loyal and devoting to their families.

Monday, February 19, 2007


I had today off so I went shopping with the parents and my sister in law. I think dad looks funny in his wheelchair holding all the stuff.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Day at library

It's such nice weather out that I decided to walk to the library. I love it here. To keep me entertained on the walk I read an article in byu magazine about seeking out the good things in life. It's filled with great quotes on reading and learning. Nibley said: "if you pray for an angel to visit you, you know what he'll do if he comes. He'll just quote the scriptures to you- so you're wasting your time waiting for what we already have." here's a good one from mckay: "as with companions so with books. We may choose those which will make us better, more intelligent, more appreciative of the good and the beautiful in the world, or we may choose the trashy, the vulgar, the obscene, which will make us feel as though we've been 'wallowing in the mire.'" I am happy to say I am surrounded by good companions. Thanks friends!

Monday, February 12, 2007


They're down again. Anyone know why? I can't keep up with all the national mournings going on.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

niece photo

so i finally got a cute photo of the new niece. here she is with her older sister. just too cute i say.

Friday, February 9, 2007


it's official. i weigh more than my father. he's my ideal weight. poor man. it just seems ironic.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


I can't remember if I posted this or not - but I meant to. It's my nephew being held by his aunt chewing on his grandpa's saline infusion bag. I guess empty bags can be fun for teething.


i'm having my students give sermons (or lectures) in class today. it could be about any problem - their own or someone else's or the world's. the best looking kid, highest gpa, and on the football team - one sharp well respected boy - got choked up on his first sentence and couldn't deliver his. luckily a classmate volunteered to do it for him. i nearly cried. he wrote about the problem of families and divorce. his parents got a divorce recently. he's stuck in the middle. all of his siblings have gotten injured and sick since this began. he's had to scrounge for change to buy school lunch lately. how horribly sad that people can't get along better. oh, how sad.

Monday, February 5, 2007


I have a new niece today! She had to be delivered by c- section because she was breached (is that the word?) - anyway, pretty exciting!

when music offends

so in my reading classes my students are reading about some of the cases where music has been deemed offensive and it's resulted in a band. all of my students agree that some music little children shouldn't listen to, but that as mature 16 year olds they can decide what is appropriate or not. they are also very capable of pointing out the risks of listening to offensive music. strange that they still choose to listen to it. ANYWAY, that's not my point. what i wanted to comment on was a funny discovery. i noticed that my blog had been read by someone in maryland. i looked to see where they came from. the site from which they came was 2pac. as in the rapper guy. it's a whole blog about tupac. call me insensitive and narrow minded and bigoted, but the site made me laugh. that guy sure seemed to take himself way too seriously. at least that's what my impression is. like i said, i'm probably too narrow minded, but such is the extent of my experience.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Being an artist

Who we are speaks volumes to what we do on the outside.

That's a quote (or close to it) from a presentation by that famous lds fantasy painter whose name I think is christensen. It is part of his advice to artists - know who you are spiritually - be connected to your family and be active in church. Keep your priorities and keep balanced - it feeds your art.

Friday, February 2, 2007


Finally it seems all the flags are at full mast. For so long it seemed some or all were at half mast. I should look up the rules on such things since the inconsistancy was bugging me. Anyway, they're finally all up, which seems odd since it feels like they've been at half mast more often than full mast ever since 9/11. Am I right or am I right?