An 8 day house-sitting getaway with ample time and quiet and opportunities for swamp-y adventures and research sounds great, doesn’t it?

(No, it doesn’t. It did before I had to get up at 5 a.m. to catch a plane. Right about now it sounds like the stupidist fucking idea I’ve ever had).

The house has air-conditioning and there are adorable kittens!

What could possibly go wrong?

I’ve been informed that the snowbirds have flown north, so it’s nice and peaceful. Which, now that I think about it, sounds like a euphemism for “desolate.” The power doesn’t go out that often anymore, though, so there’s that! The internet works sometimes, or so I’ve heard. There’s no landline, but if you wrap yourself in aluminum foil and stand in the bed of a (parked) pickup truck while there aren’t any clouds in the sky and you’re super-lucky you can apparently get a decent cell signal.

Oh, hell.

I’m either going to get loads of research done or I’m going to be starring in the sequel to Tucker and Dale vs Evil.

I have to cook for myself for most of the week. That alone has great potential for tragedy and/or comedy.

Luckily, I’m just up the road a-ways from Publix so I’m sure everything will work out fine. They have awesome fried chicken.

Plus, I hear you can get fantastic cell reception in the produce section.

[embedded video: Underdog theme]

I loved Underdog. The cartoon, not whatever this was. It was shown in syndication in the afternoon and I used to watch it at my grandparent’s house when the weather was too crappy for my grandfather to take dad and I out for boating adventures in the Port Charlotte canals.

The New York Times is reporting that Underdog co-creator W. Watts Biggers died.

I looked in my archives to see how much I’ve posted about Underdog. I found this in a link round-up post from 2002. (Un)fortunately, the links were dead:

It was back to sad, however, when I saw the ain’t it cool news headline announcing the death of Rocky and Bullwinkle animation supervisor William “Tex” Henson. Henson also oversaw Underdog, which was one of my favorite cartoons. There’s not a lot of Underdog information on the web. ToonTracker has some and I found a rather disturbing quantity of Underdog fan fiction that someone wrote while heavily medicated.

I also found this, which was disturbing in a different way, in that it was about a dream I had last year: I doubt a completed Underdog coloring book actually counts as a PhD comprehensive exam.

In retrospect, Underdog was a pretty annoying show, which may explain why we went on some afternoon boat rides in pretty crappy weather. Still, I loved the Underdog coloring books. A lot.

    I have so many things to update you on, my loyal readers, that I don’t know where to begin. Consequently, I keep logging in and then getting so tangled up trying to organized my thoughts that I lose several hours to the Manatee cam and then, oops, time to get to school.

    Wild Manatee Cam at Blue Spring State Park.

    Warning: that’s a good quality feed and there are 344 manatees wintering there so there’s lots of manatee action and I can’t be responsible if you stop bathing and lose your job because you’ve gotten sucked in.

    Today wasn’t a total loss for me. I didn’t make it to the gym, but I put on my gym clothes at one point and seriously considered it. I’m at the gym so much it was recently suggested to me that I run for the Board of Directors. Missing a day isn’t a big deal.

    Plus, I figure that somedays wresting into a sports bra is workout enough. I’ve found the most brilliantly comfortable running bra on the planet (Moving Comfort, Juno). It looks like body armor, but it’s sheer engineering genius. And while it’s challenging to put on, it’s got clever velcro closures on the straps so you never have to worry about it being difficult to remove when you’re sweaty and tired. I always think it’s important to have an escape route in case of, I don’t know…fire or something.

    I don’t know why I think that.

Good piece in the Post about all of the media attention garnered by recent wildlife deaths. (How meta.)

I think that doomsday hysteria and speculation that causes panic instead of rational inquiry is irresponsible, but I think news reports about wildlife deaths are important because they expose people not only to natural science but to things that are happening beyond their own backyard or their own community.

Until this morning, I had no idea this had happened:

In March 1996, a blizzard hit the Platte River in Nebraska as more than half a million sandhill cranes nested at the peak of their migration. In the biggest known kill of the cranes, birds driven by high winds flew beak-first into trees and buildings during a failed attempt to outrace the blizzard. More than 2,000 died.

Poor cranes. They’re such big birds, I can’t begin to imagine the mayhem if a flock that size panicked. Or a flock any size. Big, big birds.

Bird crossing

My mom has several families (of non-migratory Sandhill Cranes) nesting in her neighborhood and they entertain me every day while they feast on frogs and lizards in her yard. I’ve mentioned those cranes here before because they’re endlessly amusing. They also scare me half to death on a regular basis when I open the curtains and find one on the other side of the glass staring in (or, more accurately, at it’s reflection). Wakes you up better than coffee.


Did you watch Invasion of the Giant Pythons this weekend on PBS? Me neither, but my Tivo, Overlord II, recorded it for me so I’ll watch it soon.

In related news, I’m still marveling over this story out of Maryland: a woman claimed she was bitten by a cobra she picked up in the parking lot of White Marsh Mall after she mistook it for a stick. That was the best story she could come up with? Snakes can look like sticks, sure, but the more fundamental question would be, why would you pick up a stick in a mall parking lot.

Meanwhile, her story – that she had come across the highly poisonous monocled cobra in the parking lot of the White Marsh Mall – immediately raised eyebrows among the snake-savvy.

Experts say the animals, normally found in Southeast Asia, could not survive outdoors in Maryland in January. And finger bites are typical of injuries to careless snake handlers during feeding.

Actually, an even more fundamental question would be, why would you go to White Marsh Mall in the first place? I’ve only been there a few times, but the place always smells like tires to me and it gives me a headache.

I have so-called affinity license plates. I’m pretty sure the only place you can get valid license plates is through the DMV. I mention this because over the last few months several people have asked me where I got my license plates.

The best answer I’ve come up with so far is, “I made them myself…in prison.”

You may be able to get personalized, legal postage stamps now but I’m pretty sure license plates are like driver’s licenses, they need to be issued from a government agency to be valid. I just don’t think you want everyone to be able to manufacture plates, even if the state still issues the tag number.

Now that I’ve seen this post on Cajun Boy in the City, I don’t know if I think every state should be allowed to manufacture plates. Aren’t there any grownups in the Florida Legislature?

This is a mockup of the plate the Florida Senate has proposed:

Religious License Plate

I need to go lay down now.