January 31, 2009

Mouse finger

My right index finger has been complaining for two or three weeks. What it is is 'tennis elbow' in my mouse clicking finger.

So I have spent the last three days training myself to mouse left-handed.

It is not natural, but neither is it supernatural.

January 25, 2009

Letters from Charles Darwin

February 12, 2009 is the bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth. My wife is making an exhibit in his honor for the Natural History Museum in Lund Sweden. She found some letters that he had sent in the library and I helped her read and transcribe them. His handwriting is neat but hurried, he wrote with a quill and he used some abbreviations, like 'cd' for 'could' and 'wd' for 'would'.

Here are the letters:

Down Bromley

Kent Aug 19 1868

My dear Hooker,

I dare say you could find some naturalist who could obtain for me from Professor Nillson a little piece of information. It is whether with the Reindeer in which both Sexes are horned, are the horns first developed (or are they developed in a greater degree) at an earlier or later age, or at nearly the same period of life as with all other deer, in which the males alone have horns? The comparison would be fairest with species of nearly the same size and inhabiting the same climate.

If Prof. Nillson does not know, would it be possible to interest him enough to obtain for me in his own country this piece of information about which I am very curious.

Believe me,
Yours very sincerely
Charles Darwin

Kent. S. C.

Oct 31st

Dear and Honored Sir,

I am very much obliged for your great kindness in sending me the reference about the Reindeer through Dr. Hooker. When next in London I will consult the work, and should be grateful for any further information from you. You will easily perceive that what I wish to ascertain is whether there is any relation whatever between the period of development of a character and its transmission to one sex alone or to both sexes.

I have much pleasure in enclosing my photograph, and if it would not cause you too much trouble I should very much like to possess one of you, as I have a collection of the photographs of eminent naturalists.

With the most sincere respect
I remain yours sincerely and obliged
Charles Darwin

January 10, 2009

Swedish public school

Here's a picture of the wood shop in F's old grade school. He was 8 at the time and made a cutting board in the shape of a fish. A year later in sewing he made a cool sea monster stuffed animal for his little brother.

January 09, 2009

Flat pack nation

Children in Sweden are expected to assemble furniture.

Botalit High Voltage Driver

I was going to throw out this scrappy old screwdriver and then I saw that it is rated for 12,000 V, so I decided to keep it. You never know.

January 03, 2009

Dog stories

Our five-year old son has been hard to put to sleep lately. He talks and asks questions and fidgets and wants to go to the bathroom or drink some milk. The last couple of nights though we tried something new. After stories and a snack and brushing teeth he lies in his bed and I tell him three dog stories, and then he doesn't have to sleep, he just has to rest quietly and think. After 10 minutes of thinking he is fast asleep. The key is the dog stories. Here are plot summaries of the stores so far.

1. St. Bernard. Strong faithful dog with keen sense of smell digs out avalanche victims and gives them rum.

2. Snoopy. Five sons (my Karkula cousins) and a black and white spotted dog who likes to jump in the boat and go fishing, watch when the fish are cleaned and eat fish cubes straight from the frying pan.

3. Chow chow with black tongue is out for a walk with his master and they discover an American Indian camp and watch them clean a buffalo and use the fur for a blanket and make buffalo stew and use a tiny buffalo bone as a sewing needle and make a drinking cup out of a horn. The dog gets a big buffalo bone to chew on.

4. Loosely based on Jack London's White Fang/Call of the Wild. Nice family dog discovers his roots in the wilderness and becomes a wolf.

5. Huskie goes out in a kayak with his master who harpoons a whale. Whale gets mad and breaks the kayak in two. The master is knocked out and the huskie swims him into shore and drags him onto a sled and pulls him back to the igloo, saving his life. The husky is rewarded with his favorite food: frozen chunks of fish.

6. Police dog captures bad guys and sniffs out stolen goods.

7. My brother's black lab Nico likes going for walks with kids, fetching and digging holes in the back yard.

8. My family's spaniel Goggles is out grouse hunting with Dad and my brothers and he runs off and doesn't come back. They call to Goggles and finally must drive home. Dad goes back after a few days and ties one of his T-shirts onto a tree in the woods where they had parked the car. Dad goes back yet again and there is Goggles by the shirt with his master's scent. Goggles never runs off again.

9. The younger brother whippet begs his parents to let him go to the dog races to show that he is faster than any other dog. He eats his food, sleeps at night and goes running every day, and wins the race.

10. The pirate dog's crew is lost at sea and thinks of eating him. The pirate dog climbs to the top of the mast and stands guard for three days. Finally he sees land and guides his crew to safety.

11. Seeing eye dog helps his blind master get through life.

12. Firehouse dalmation rides on the fire truck and saves a fireman from a burning building.

That was four night's worth of dog stories. Got any ideas??

January 02, 2009

Happy New Year

I'd like to congratulate everyone on completing a full orbit around the sun during 2008, and I hope that our ride in 2009 will be at least that much fun again, and hopefully more so.

The Holidays were kind to me, including a new digital camera and bike seat. I got out of the house for a while this afternoon and used them both.

They put a pair of bulls on the top of a hill near our house to welcome people driving down from the North. It's the highest point for miles around.

They put up three windmills earlier this year, the first of many. You can see we haven't gotten any snow yet, only frost. Temperatures in the teens today. Chance of snow tomorrow - ??

Then I rode to a wildlife area north of town. All the ducks were collected in a small patch of open water where the stream enters.

We had a good hard freeze last night and a few people were out skating.

Just north of the pond are these Viking burial mounds, for someone named 'Sten'.

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