rowanf: (Default)
Saturday night, despite a fairly rocky day, I took my box of tissues in hand (yes, the whole box) and went off with [ profile] mr_kurt to Mountain View for dinner (which I didn't really eat because, well, I can't taste anything) and then the wonderful concert at East-West Books put on by Sharon & Winter. There were about 25-30 people there and it was just so great to hear Sharon doing work from Song of the Sea and her old acoustic album, Incantation which is one of my all time favorite albums. I requested a song she doesn't do anymore (Lord Fenugreek) and she said she's had several requests so she'll have to relearn it. *grin* I said Incantation is one of the 10-12 albums I'd have to have if marooned on a desert island. Which makes me wonder what the other 10-11 would be.

In no particular order...
Sally Oldfield, Water Bearer
Donovan, Sutras
Oracle, Pool of Dreams
Heart, Dreamboat Annie
Lisa Thiel, Invocation of the Graces
John Renbourn Group, probably A Maid in Bedlam
Janice Ian, either Aftertones or Between the Lines
Joanne Shenandoah, Matriarch
Something by Steeleye Span - I'm having trouble deciding!

Huh, that's all that springs to mind. There are surely rock (Alchemy VII maybe) and cajun/zydeco (Chanterelle probably) and bellydance music (say something by Hossam Ramsey or Saroyan's Oriental Bouquet). And I can always take more folk music - Dick Gaughan, Emerald Rose, Planxty, Loreena McKennitt, Laura Powers, Michelle Mays, etc. but no particular album leaps out as a must-have.

It is interesting how ballad oriented I remain. I've often said I like music I can sing along with. This list bears that out. *grin*

This morning Kurt and Arthur and I went out and found the "Jupiter" cache of the NorCal Solar System series so I could leave a space man travel bug there. I had been holding him too long waiting to get to this cache. We also found Ganymede and Shoemaker-Levy and a couple of others. I'm up to 78 caches.

This totally wiped me out and I've slept the rest of the day away. I didn't sleep all that well last night, being still into convulsive coughing fits. I did manage to do laundry (well, I need to go move it along) and to cook the lamb for my curry on Tuesday. But I must say this afternoon has been utterly unproductive. I do plan to go to work tomorrow. I think I have a packet of antiseptic wipes in my office from the last time I was sick. I hope I don't give this to anyone else. It is bloody miserable.

I went on Freecycle just a bit ago to list my wormies on offer ... but someone this morning had posted a "wanted" red worms, so I wrote zir and asked if they wanted them and the bin as well. I am just not feeling up to having dependents at the moment. I hope zir calls since it would be nice to know they went to someone who was actually *looking* for wormies.
rowanf: (worm bin)
It has been a bit of a topsy-turvy week what with the water being off at work and all. No bathrooms, nothing to drink (the coffee drinkers were going bonkers.) I worked from home from Tuesday lunch and all day Wednesday.

I left work after a morning of no toilets and the arrival of a complex search which I could perfectly well work on at home. I got home and decided that since it was a beautiful day I would harvest some compost from the wormies as I had been meaning to do since we got back from England and I found they had pretty much reduced everything I had left them. I set up a table under the ash tree. The bin was too heavy to carry to the back yard! The bottom was entirely full of water and the drain spigot was blocked which is why my periodic attempts to drain it failed. It was interesting to get a chance to paw through the colony and see that yes, there are individuals from about 1/4 inch up to about 3 inches long. I think I even saved some eggs. There were also lots of roly polies and some other bugs. I killed the bad ones and dropped the rollies down into the plants. I really wonder where they all came from. My suspicion is the bag of shredded paper that spent too long on the ground by the side of the house. I harvested one bin and put compost by the pomegranate tree and one of the kiwi vines. I dumped the water on the former and also the rosemary. The lower bin was too moist to easily separate worms out so I just put it on top of the new, food-seeded bin and hope the worms will migrate down where the food is, the dirt will dry out and I can harvest it next week.

Tuesday evening we had an amazing Tuesday dinner. [ profile] mr_kurt and [ profile] saffronrose had offered to do the September dinner since we were just back from England and I am leaving again so soon. I was just feeling burnt out and cranky about it. It was soooo nice to have a month off! And the food was truly stunning. Entrée crepes were available with either cinnamon/curry lamb, turkey in saffron cream sauce or spinach and ricotta fillings (or a combination thereof and with assorted vegetables for adding as well). I ate one of each and then back for more turkey. *mouthgasm* And then for desert there were sweeter crepes with fruit (peaches and raspberries), nutella and freshly whipped cream. Did I say *mouthgasm* !!!! Oh my. I ate three. They have set a very high standard for Tuesday dinners! Now we just need to find someone who will do the dishes. Poor Russell (with some help) is still always stuck with the clean-up.
rowanf: (worm bin)
I haven't mentioned my wormies in ages. They just eat and grow. I have two tiers going at the moment and haven't taken out any soil so there hasnt been much to report. But I thought this article in The Scientist was interesting and wanted to remember this bit.

For Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Cori Bargmann, the worm's the thing. And not just because studying worms can tell us more about ourselves. Bargmann, who recently moved her lab from the University of California, San Francisco, to Rockefeller University, has taken to looking at problems from the worm's point of view. In addressing questions relating to nematode neurobiology and behavior, for example, "it helps to think about what the nervous system has evolved to do," she says. "What are the challenges the animal faces? What is the world it actually lives in?"

The approach has led to an appreciation of what it means to be a worm, and it has helped to explain some otherwise perplexing observations. Consider Caenorhabditis elegans' surprisingly sophisticated sense of smell. "Our own olfactory system has about 350 receptor genes," says Bargmann. Flies have maybe 150, mice around 1,000. "Worms have between 1,300 and 1,700 receptors whose main job seems to be detecting molecules in their environment," she says. Odorant receptor genes account for almost 10% of the worm genome. "That makes no sense whatsoever until you know how complex their environment really is."

A gram of garden soil, says Bargmann, contains some 107 bacteria, representing 1,000 different species of which fewer than 10% have ever been cultured in the lab. And many of those are toxic to C. elegans. "The soil is a community where everyone is basically trying to poison everyone else," says Bargmann. "So the worm is traveling through this minefield of monsters." The surfeit of chemosensory receptors, among other things, presumably helps the animals sort food from foe.

And it provides biologists like Bargmann with plenty of fodder for investigation. By identifying the molecules, cells, and neural circuits that underlie olfaction, Bargmann has provided insight into how worms sense and interact with their world. And because many of these systems are conserved through evolution, her findings could lead to a better understanding of our own brains and behavior, and thus the defects that lead to neurological disease.

I wonder if my little worm box is a friendlier habitat. :-)

May 2015



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