Or barely dabble. I’m sure a philatelist would have a conniption at the state of my stamps. My collections would be much more pleasing to a numismatist, but he would probably say that mine was a very mundane assortment; probably worthless. Likewise a petrologist would yawn, I imagine, until we got to the meteorites. I could almost be a deltiologist, but every time I gather up a good batch, I only try to find reasons to send them out in the mail. I’d probably be better at it if the mail brought them to me instead.
I used to be a devoted arctophilist, and still have many stuffed friends from my childhood, but have since mostly dismantled my collection.
I was never personally drawn to phillumeny, but I did inherit a lovely collection of matchbooks whose sulfur emissions are tightly contained by a gigantic jar. Woe to those that open it, though sometimes I do just to wake my nose up. My mother was very much a gnomologist, and I briefly followed in her footsteps until I tried paroemiography instead.
Lepidoptery always kind of creeped me out, and I find oology similarly squicky. Though I can kind of understand, the homes of plangonologists put me on edge as well, all those eyes!
The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.
So, I was learning about Trophic cascade and how reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone changed everything, down to the land and rivers. And then I was sharing this knowledge with a co-worker when her mind turned to coyotes and then to their interbreeding with wolves. And now I am learning something else.
The Coywolf is a coyote-wolf hybrid. They have been in the north eastern part of the country for near a hundred years and are sometimes lumped in with the group of Eastern Coyotes (DNA testing has shown that most Eastern Coyotes have Wolf genes). This canid is one of the rare, successful, natural hybridizations, probably due to depleted wolf populations and lack of mates for wolves (Wikipedia entry).
I find it especially interesting that this hybridization combines the strongest behavioral characteristics as well: a coyote’s comfort with populated areas and a wolf’s tendency to move in packs. This is kind of creepy. Especially since coywolves are bigger than coyotes.
As interesting as the coywolf is, my favorite canid is still the raccoon dog (pictured above). Raccoon dogs, aka tanuki, have the most ancient canid DNA for a living species today, and they have a wealth of legend and story.
And since we’ve gone to Asia with the raccoon dog, it would be remiss of me to not mention Pallas’s Cat (pictured). This fuzzy, solitary, house cat sized felid, looks to me like someone mixed a cat and a monkey, specifically: a tamarin. They also remind me of my cat, Sparkles.
If canids and felids aren’t your thing, perhaps you are a bird person. I know quite a few of those. The Potoo bird is native to Africa, and looks like some trick of taxidermy, or as if it under went a treatment with Kai’s Goo. Ya’ll remember that program, right?
In any case, muppets are real people too (images from a Google search and unfortunately without attribution anywhere I could find them posted).
It’s been a while since I was immersing myself in language education. I feel bad to have not mastered a language other than English, especially because I find the process of learning another language so fascinating.
On the old Bean (nothing but an archive in my home computer now) I wrote up an entire post testing the merits of a handful of online language learning sites. I imagine that most of the information is obsolete now, even though many of the sites still operate and send me news emails regularly.
Anyway, enough boo hooing and reminiscing. FSI Language Courses has texts and mp3s of the language programs developed by the Foreign Service Institute. If you want to learn a language, why not learn the way military and diplomats have before? And do it for free.
I am going to brush up on some stuff right after NaNoWriMo. I promise.
If I have not said this before, I love the internet archive. I imagine that the sentiment is shared by anyone trying to dig up old information. I have been saved by books digitized by the internet archive in my work, and in my private genealogy research.
Now if you, like me, have spent some real time with genealogical research then you have spent time with the nitty gritty of history. You have read over land grants, court transcripts, and small claims; you have dissected the language of historical sketches and town diaries written hundreds of years ago; you have wondered why 15 men within two generations of the same family are named Vine. So books like the Curiosities of Puritan nomenclature (1888) are interesting because they explain why surnames came about at all, where they came from, why there are so many Rogers and Johns, and much more.
Do you want to learn something today? If you are anything like me then you like to gather up little pieces of information like hermit crabs collect junk. But this stuff is far from junk: MIT OpenCourseWare | Free Online Course Materials puts MIT Course Materials online for anyone to access. Crazy awesome, or is it just me? I know I’m not getting the lectures, but dude! Kids pay good money to go to MIT.
Speaking of good money. If you really want lectures, Yale’s got some Open Courses as well.
I like learning, yes I do. I like learning, how bout you?
Dudes! I just found out about this fabulous online endeavor to make University courses available for free to people all over the world. There are 203 courses in the Course Catalog of Coursera. They range from history and poetry to mathematical thinking and operations management. I am nearly jumping in my seat with the possibilities and ranges of information that I can pack my brain full of.
The only draw back, and yet it’s kind of nicely cementing learning in time, is that the courses have a set begin date and structure. So, I would need to make the time, instead of find the time.
A fabulous colleague of mine referred me to Code Year. If you sign up, then every Monday you will receive an ‘Interactive Programming Lesson.’ I don’t know about you, but this is one of my pet and applicable to the job hobbies that I feel I just don’t have enough time for. If I had had an inkling in school, maybe I would’ve directed my study to more systems related stuff, and I have at times looked for classes and programs that would supplement this Code Year is the the most time efficient I’ve found. Dude! Just did my first lesson.