Tuesday, August 29, 2006

TV test

Overheard at the doctor's office: "I'm just here to check the results of my TV test."

I'm sure she really said TB test, but wouldn't it be great if there really were a TV test?

"Your total TV is 283, which is much too high. We'd like to keep your total TV at 200 or below. Your ETV (good TV) level is 49, which is in the normal range. But it wouldn't hurt to increase your documentary consumption. Your TTV (bad TV), at 191, is much too high. You should cut back on soap operas, sitcoms, and reality shows. And get more exercise."


ETV = educational TV = "good TV"
TTV = trash TV = "bad TV"

Monday, August 28, 2006

Dilbert okra

I think this pod has been reading the funny pages.


Edited to add:

The Gallery of Suggestive Vegetables:

The post that started the whole thing:
Robin Andrea's

The original NPR story here.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


A belated thanks to Nio, Pablo, and Linda, who all sent me postcards following my recent postcard-addiction post.

Nio won the "make the elderly postmistress faint" award by sending a Clinton-Gore bondage mockup.

Friday, August 25, 2006


I made an offhand comment yesterday about the date of my upcoming craft show, and then learned that it was a week closer than what I'd thought. Eek!

So in lieu of fresh Rurality content, I'm phoning in a few links.

When I was a kid I went with a friend to church camp. One night a missionary spoke to us, and went around the campfire circle saying everyone's name in Spanish. Even though mine turned out to be just "Karen" pronounced with an accent, I was entranced. That's the exact moment I became interested in foreign cultures.

I like reading blogs from other countries, and especially those written by people who aren't natives. My old favorite blog My Blue House (Hispanic-American in France) may be gone, but here are two others I've been enjoying recently.

View From Iran - American in Iran

Tokyo Girl - Brit who was in Tokyo but who's recently moved to Australia


And of course it's Friday so you should visit the Friday Ark.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Leunig again

An agent for Michael Leunig emailed me with new information, so I decided to update this entry. Justin Combs says, "www.leunig.com.au is a tribute site that should in time become Michael’s official site." He also notes that you can see Leunig's artwork at artloft.

Below is the original post from May 2005, with broken links fixed.


The worst thing about egg-eating snakes is that they are kind of difficult to top.

So today I'm just going to point at some other sites. They all have to do with Michael Leunig, an Australian cartoonist.

I have no idea how I found him originally... just one of those internet things.

His cartoons appear sporadically in the Melbourne newspaper The Age. (Click over to BugMeNot if any of the newspaper links below require registration and you don't have or want your own.)

At this point I would have liked to show you this picture of one of his cartoons, saying "reproduced with the kind permission of...", but I can't. To a huge Australian newspaper I'm an insignificant flea. An insignificant American flea. Oh well. Just click it. It's not titled but I call it Mysterious or Unusual.

Here are some other recent cartoons from The Age:
What has happened to your life?
Banana mules of suburbia

Leunig draws a lot of political cartoons, which you may or may not agree with. I have political views but have decided that Rurality the blog is apolitical so I'm not going to discuss them here.

His "everyday life" cartoons speak to everyone, regardless of politics. Many good ones, including The Guru (a personal favorite), are here on a site that reviews his book The Travelling Leunig. (Edited to remove broken link. You can find The Guru here and others here.)

More cartoons, including my other favorite, The Plodder.

Curly Flat has background info.

The list of his books, at amazon.com.

His artwork. Sadly, Rurality can't invite you up to see its Leunig etchings at this time, since they start at around US$500 and Rurality still has many unmet fencing needs.

Another place that sells his art.

Hope you like Leunig as much as I do.

Edited to add:
One more. This one has lots of Leunig's prayers.

You might guess that I enjoy the one that begins, "We rejoice and give thanks for earthworms, bees, ladybirds and broody hens"!

And also this, if it's not too mushy for a Friday:

God help us to live slowly:
To move simply:
To look softly:
To allow emptiness:
To let the heart create for us.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Asian Melons

Gardening is not very interesting if I'm not trying something different.

I'm one of those people who ends up wanting everything marked "new" in the seed catalog, but I managed to restrain myself this year and only ordered five unusual melons. (That may sound like a lot, but the catalog had 16 varieties of Eastern and Asian melons that I'd never heard of before.)

This turned out to be my favorite. It's called Sakata's Sweet, and it originated in Japan. The description of fragrant, sweet, and crunchy was too good to pass up. And you can eat the peel!

Never having grown it before, I didn't really know what "ripe" looked like. I think it's actually a bit past this point - they get a yellowish tinge if you leave them longer. But it doesn't seem to matter much to the taste or texture.

One description said that they reach the size of a baseball, but they evidently grow about 50% larger than that in the Alabama heat.

They're green inside, and man oh man are they good. The taste is somewhat like a honeydew melon, only much sweeter, and very crisp.

The only problem we encountered was an extremely low germination rate. Out of about 21 seeds planted at three different times, we got one plant. (Still, it did better than the "Golden Sweet" melon, which produced no plants from the same number of seeds.)

Reading about another Asian variety, I was dismayed to learn that it only produces six - eight melons per plant. I hope that is not true of this type too, or else I've only got a couple more to look forward to.

The seeds came from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, a nice company who offered to refund the money for seeds that didn't germinate.


I almost forgot to mention, if any part of the melon seems a little bitter, a day or two in the fridge (after cutting it open) will cure that.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Frogs R Us

I almost stepped on this bullfrog.

She must have been up partying all night. After the photo session, I realized that Jasmine was much too interested in her. But she could not be budged with stick or shoe, and a scooping operation was well underway before she woke up enough to hop madly away for the ditch.

Previous bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) entries:
Minty Frog


My sister emailed me to say that my blog came up #2 in her Google search for "Alabama Toads". I'm not at all an authority on that, but I can give good directions:
Frogwatch USA - links to info and good sound files
Frogs and Toads in Alabama

Some previous frog & toad encounters:
Tuesday - Gray Tree Frog
Green Chair Frog - Green Tree Frog
Night crawling - Fowler's Toad
Frogz - Southern Leopard Frog & Green Tree Frog
Happy Amphibians - Sound file - Fowler's Toads (I think)
Night chorus - Sound file - Spring Peepers


I wonder if frogs and toads have regional "accents" like birds do.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Rayleigh Scattering

Changes in directions of electromagnetic energy by local variations in refractive index caused by the presence of dispersed species whose size is 1/16 wavelength or less than the wavelength of the incident light.

It's also just pretty.

Why the sky is blue and sunsets are red, references here and here.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Murphy's law of chickens

Given: In the beginning there are 30 or so free-range chickens, three of them male.

Given: There is a little predator problem.

Murphy's law of chickens:
By the time you get down to nine chickens, three of them will still be male.

All that's left of the next-to-last Marans.

Since the last chicken update in April, we've lost five more hens.

We have two chickens still left from our original batch (from spring 2004), Stewpot and a white leghorn hen.

The others are survivors from spring 2005:
1 Rhode Island Red rooster
1 Easter Egger rooster
1 Marans hen
3 Easter Egger hens

The Easter Egger hens are my favorites - they're sweet (and apparently more predator-proof) and they lay cool greenish-blue large eggs all year long. (They don't stop laying during the molt or during the winter like some breeds do.)

We decided that if we get more chicks next spring we'll have to build a run for them around the coop and stop the whole free-range idea, or at least limit its hours. These chickens are just too fond of the woods (a.k.a. coyote and bobcat central).

Let me know if you want a rooster.

Friday again

Time for the Friday Ark. It's the Centennial Edition!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

St Augustine

When I posted the sun photo earlier, I realized that I'd never posted the St Augustine pictures. We stopped there briefly on the way to Melbourne last month.

I paid to climb to the top of the

but I didn't get very far, because of the

so I hung around looking at the


Hubby was much braver,

and was very sweet not to make fun of me.


If you're using an rss reader and the photos don't show up, they are:
1. St Augustine Lighthouse,
2. Scary see-through spiral staircase at same,
3. Soothing, calming Live Oaks (that would have been whispering, had there been any wind) and
4. View from the parapet.


Actually I looked at the live oaks prior to any chickening out - they were in the parking lot. Post-chickening, I looked around at the educational exhibits, but I didn't get any photos of those.

I chatted with a park worker who told me that loads of people pay and then don't climb. Really. Happens all the time, she said. Well, yeah! See-through stairs make you dizzy.

Monday, August 14, 2006


The trees have ears.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Stalking the Earth

I bought a birthday card once with a dinosaur on the cover. Inside, instead of "Happy Birthday," it read, "Congratulations on another year of stalking the Earth."

In birthday terms, I've probably been stalking for more years than I have years remaining to stalk. But it's amazing what can still surprise.

I saw a velvet ant this week. I don't think they're particularly rare, but this makes only the third time I've encountered one.

She was in a hurry and wouldn't pose at all. When I looked up the latin name, Dasymutilla occidentalis, I read that they make an odd sqeaking/squealing noise when captured. So now I'll have to try that next time I see one. They're also called cow-killers because of an extremely painful sting, though I haven't found anyone who has first-hand knowledge of it.

During the weekly cat walk, George investigated a humongous fungus. A champion champignon!

I don't remember ever seeing a mushroom this large. Some wild critter had left small scratches on the surface - it must have been curious too.

Hubby found a spider hiding between some rocks in the creek.

Turns out there are fishing spiders! Dolomedes tenebrosus or scriptus. I think this is the latter. The leg span can reach 3 inches (7.6 cm). I like spiders reasonably well, but I think I'd have to put this one out if he came in the house... I've seen enough spy movies to know that a spider that big and hairy would definitely want to crawl all over my face in the middle of the night.

What new thing did you discover this week?

Friday Ark

Don't forget to visit the Friday Ark for all your animal blogging needs.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Click over RIGHT NOW to the Brittlestar site. Between now and August 18, you can preorder "Secrets" for only $7.50 plus shipping. Plus, you can preview the album online by clicking on the cover. And by preview I mean, listen to the whole thing. What a deal! So go now, and check it out. Tell the immensely talented Stewart that I said hi.

When you're done with that, make sure to visit the duffypedia, the brainchild of my friends Chris and Sabine. Because if you're not a Stephen Duffy/Lilac Time fan already, well you should be.

You can go here and click on the little mp3 beside "So Far Away" to hear my favorite SD song. (Just don't believe the part about an EP or live album being released anytime soon.)

Five weird things

Ron from Toad in the Hole sent me a meme, to list five weird things about myself.

I am generally not superstitious, but feel compelled to kiss my finger and briefly hold it to the ceiling everytime I'm in a car that runs a red light.

I have a vivid imagination, and can sometimes spend too much time thinking about the worst thing that can possibly happen in any given situation. (That's why I fainted at the tourniquet portion of a Girl Scout first aid lecture.)

One of my previous goals in life was to have a penpal in every country of the world. A large world map covered with red pins was my wall art. I never achieved this goal, but still get a thrill every time I receive a postcard from somewhere far away. (Karen, Box 203 Allgood AL 35013, if you want to thrill me.)

I have a hard time buying just one book on a subject. Two is a minimum, but I feel a lot better with three, and five or six or twelve is really best.

I have a hypersensitivity to (can smell from a mile away) rancid oil and green peppers. It's fading as I age, though. In the past I could hardly stomach anything that had been cooked in the same oven as a dish containing green peppers.

I think that the thing you put in your mouth (or elsewhere) and the thing you hang outdoors should not both be called thermometers.

OK well that's six things. I was on a roll.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


I found a secret treasure.

Last year I was not so rewarded.

But clearly, I've been on my best behavior lately.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Shadow Knows

Can you tell what the shadow knows? I've darkened it to make it more visible. Scroll down for the answer.

I thought I'd look up the latin name and mention it here.

Then I found out that there are 83 different kinds in Alabama.

So I said, "Forget that."

Because they all look more or less exactly alike.

OK well not really, but almost.

And I am not that dedicated.

Not enough to plow through a lengthy key.

Especially when the subject in question slipped away after only a couple of blurry, non-diagnostic photos.



Check out that right claw.

I got really tickled reading the common names of some of the Crayfish of Alabama.

First of all, nobody here really calls them that. It's crawdads to you, bub. Even crawfish suggests that you're just putting on airs.

There are a few normal, descriptive names:
Bigclaw Crayfish
Boxclaw Crayfish
Twospot Crayfish

But several of them sound awfully sinister:
Phantom Cave Crayfish
Devil Crawfish
Rusty Grave Digger (Ooh!)

And some are considerably more evocative than you'd expect, for crawdads:
Lavender Burrowing Crayfish (Really? Lavender?)
Cajun Dwarf Crayfish (Napoleon complex)
Depression Crayfish (The Sad Sack of Crayfish)
Lagniappe Crayfish (With free gift!)
Ambiguous Crayfish (Maybe I'm a crayfish, maybe not)
Ditch Fencing Crayfish (Tiny épées at 20 watery paces!)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Get well, Cutie Pie

Cristiano da Matta remains in a medically induced coma following a freak accident during Champ Car testing at Road America. Despite 8-foot fences, a deer found its way to the track, and da Matta collided with it at speed.

I've liked Cristiano ever since seeing him drive for Newman-Haas in 2002 or so. He did a few TV ads that made me realize just how old I've gotten, since they caused me to spout sugary Grandma-praise like, "Isn't he just cute as a button!" (He's rather small.) I started calling him Cutie Pie. I wanted to give him bear hugs.

Besides being cute, he's Brazilian. I'm not sure what it is about Brazilians. I have immensely liked every Brazilian I've ever met. I become a total idiot whenever I meet a Brazilian, and feel compelled to tell them that. But they don't care, because they're Brazilian; they're cool. They just smile and talk to me about Senna.

Da Matta left CART for Formula One. Initially I was excited, but he drove for Toyota, which I suppose meant that he was doomed to fail... midpack teams never seem satisfied with their drivers. He went back to Champ Cars before F1 could crush his spirit irrevocably.

Maybe after recovering, he can join up with Montoya (and Villeneuve?) and try NASCAR... now that would be interesting!

RuSPORT, da Matta's current team, has asked that in lieu of flowers or gifts, donations be made in Cristiano's name to the Hole in the Wall Camps, an official Champ Car charity.

Colors of Summer

Bellflower (Campanula americana)

Yellow Fringed Orchid (Platanthera ciliaris)

Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum)

Spider Lily (Hymenocallis occidentalis)

One of those yellow flowers (dontknowenuf stuffidus)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Special editions

It's been a busy week. I didn't mean to stop posting, it just sort of happened. While I was gone, here's what you might have missed:

The lovely young Leigh of Alis Volat Propiis hosted a summery summary: a vacation version of I and the Bird.

Pablo of Roundrock Journal delivered potent quotes while hosting the second Festival of the Trees. (I kept looking for the thong quotes but there weren't any!)

Roger of Words and Pictures, whose beautiful landscape photos I always want to step into, hosted an elegant edition of Circus of the Spineless.

The Scratching Post hosted The Carnival of the Cats, which was organized around a cat's day - sleeping, purring, eating... where was the part about world domination, though?

And of course there was the Friday Ark.