mollyringle: (Hogwarts)

So I'm re-reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in order to (finally!) round out my condensed parody collection. And here was this I came across at the start of chapter 16:

"Hermione had actually progressed to vanishing kittens"

Another item for the list of times the Hogwarts curriculum really disturbs me. Making KITTENS VANISH FOREVER? How is this okay, and not Unforgivable? Or even if it's okay under wonky wizarding ethics, how is it fine with Hermione, who gets all up in arms about house-elves' rights? Apparently the Vanishing spell doesn't just make things invisible, either; it sends them into "non-being." So that's better than Avada Kedavra...how?

And the book even says they were moving up from Vanishing snails to Vanishing mammals, because mammals are much more difficult to Vanish, so therefore the POINT in this class is to learn how to make living creatures vanish forever. When are they planning to use that? Defense against bear attacks? Surely Stunning is more ethical there. (And then why don't they just Vanish Umbridge or Voldemort...ha...)

It's a messed-up school, all right. But I guess it still makes for a good story.

mollyringle: (tea setting)
Amusing moment encountered in Les Miserables--in case anyone ever wondered if cats were always this way, the answer seems to be yes:

Every one has noticed the taste which cats have for pausing and lounging between the two leaves of a half-shut door. Who is there who has not said to a cat, "Do come in!"
mollyringle: (tree by water - by pear_icons)
1. Where I've been the last couple days: Mt Rainier, in the mists and the mosses. Stayed in the low elevations--probably no higher than 4500 feet--but still feel that hiking in my leg muscles.

2. I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and while I work on a condensed parody version I am curious to see other people's reactions, so point me to your reviews or leave comments here. I thought it a very engrossing read that tied things up pretty well--though not quite everything. I will stop there to keep from being a spoiler-head. But, warning, spoilers may end up getting discussed in the comments.

3. It's really hard to keep a straight face when reading some children's books. I'm thinking here primarily of the one that has a squirrel running around asking all the woodland creatures, "Excuse me, have you seen my nuts?" We're juvenile, I know, but really. You try repeating that over and over and not giggling.
mollyringle: (Froud - bad faeries)
Check out the bottom half of this picture. I'm pretty sure, almost certain in fact, that that's not a California leaf-nosed bat.

That's from a free children's publication that shows up in our mail for some reason. Hope the kids reading it are smart enough to catch that little error.

Anyway, we are back from a week in California (didn't see any bats nor bears, though we did see a coyote, a raccoon, several deer, lots of birds, and many farm animals), and our misgivings about taking little Z on the plane were unfounded. He was a prince. He was pretty much a prince the entire trip, actually. Flirted and babbled and waved at people, let his grandparents walk him around, played very nicely with another couple babies his age. Whew. I'd love to take credit, but personality may just be inborn. ;)

His name, by the way, if you ask him, is "Doo-dah." Linguistically speaking, I think he may actually be trying to say "Zach." The Z sound, being a fricative, is trickier for young tongues than the D sound (a stop; stops like M, B, D, G come early and easier). So in trying to pronounce a Z he may kind of stutter a D instead--same place of articulation for both; the alveolar ridge behind the front teeth--and then proceed with the "a". Getting to the "K" sound at the end would be too complicated for now; he'll add that when he can handle more sounds in one syllable.

So, Dooda it is. This is how nicknames get started...
mollyringle: (Rain - leaves)
The other month we tried some Oreo knockoffs from a brand called Back to Nature. The name spawned many jokes: ah yes, nature, where chocolate sandwich cookies grow on trees. Monkeys flinging them at each other, squirrels carrying them off to their nests. A real bitch when you park your car underneath one, though; the filling smears all over the windshield.

Anyway, that brings up the question of whether "natural" is always better for you. In the case of cookies with some heart-healthy fat instead of Crisco, then yes, I suppose it is.

But when I want to know why we need to clear all the dead leaves away from the garden, justifying my laziness by pointing out that forest floors are covered with dead leaves and are quite fertile and happy, the "nature" argument doesn't quite hold up. Yes, forest floors are covered with dead leaves, and as a consequence they are also crawling with bugs, many of which would love to eat more plants, or hey, move into our house. Since that is not acceptable, I become willing to clear the dead leaves. Thus the difference between a garden and the wilderness.

Similarly, I find myself thinking things like: "It's silly that we shouldn't walk around barefoot for fear of putting too much strain on our feet. We were designed to walk barefoot! Our primitive ancestors must have done it all the time!" To which Anthro brain has to answer: "Yes, and look how long they lived. Why, a good 32, 33 years." Ditto for worrying about how the sun, or tooth decay, or sleeping on uncomfortable surfaces, might hurt us. Since I hope to live a good three times what our hominid ancestors did, I will be trusting in science and technology to help.

Luckily science and technology help bring us cookies. Which, in the case of Back to Nature, are really good. Better than actual Oreos, if you can believe it. You win THIS round, nature...
mollyringle: (Rain - leaves)
I love my friends list. When wars start somewhere in the world, I *might* see mention of it on one or two journals. But when Pluto is demoted to dwarf planet, or--to take today's case--when poor ol' Croc Hunter Steve Irwin dies--at least five of you post about it. We have our priorities straight around here, darn it. :)

That said, I really do feel bad about Steve Irwin. I loved watching him be his insane self, holding furious writhing snakes at arm's length and assuring them, "Yer awright! Yer awright!", or body-slamming crocodiles into a boat and then gently re-releasing them somewhere less problematic. I would never have thought a stingray, which people say are mostly harmless, would be the end of him. Well, possibly it isn't the career one should choose if one wants to live a long time, but all the same I feel bad for his wife and kids. Good on ya, mate.
mollyringle: (bite me)
I now hate mosquitoes as much as I have lately hated ants.

Proof that demons exist: that tiny whining buzz of a mosquito approaching your ear at 3 a.m. Because then what do you do? You can't just bat at it and go back to sleep--it's going to stick around if you don't kill it! It's going to suck your blood and make you itch and maybe, just maybe, give you West Nile Virus! But turning on the light at 3 a.m. to find the teensy demon is more than a little disruptive to everyone in the room as well. And if you do turn on a light, good luck finding the thing. It is, after all, the size of a wisp of lint.

So a fully grown human ends up stalking around his or her bedroom in the dead of the night, bleary-eyed, scanning the walls and the ceiling for a tiny and undoubtedly laughing insect, who has gotten him or her out of bed. And has done so for more than one night in a row. Despite there being no standing water nor swamps around the house, and despite also an effort to keep doors shut for this very reason.

Then, whether you kill it or you don't, when you go back to bed your brain starts hallucinating the whine. It could be distant traffic, an electronic device somewhere in the house, or your own imagination, but you're *sure* you hear a mosquito. I STILL hear a mosquito, I swear.

I ended up spraying "natural" insect repellant--i.e., really strong citronella--on myself at about 1 a.m. today, the second day in a row for mosquito-related insomnia. Then came the problem that I smelled totally unlike my usual self, and pungently too, and that also made it hard to sleep. Yes, I am a hound dog, and cannot sleep if things don't "smell right."

So, I'll be over here thinking up ways to string mosquito netting from the light fixtures. Meanwhile, chalk this up as another reason to hate summer.
mollyringle: (Powerpuff - by Xenia)
What can make you creep out of the house in your nightgown and slippers, with a baby in one arm and a camera in the other hand, at 8 a.m.? Wildlife photo ops in the city of Seattle, naturally!



Sure, they're filthy scavengers, but I've always liked raccoons. They're clever and bold and cute, and social too. There were at least two this morning, trotting around our yard and deck together, chittering to each other.

Incidentally, Steve once overheard his coworkers discussing pet doors, the type you cut into your house doors to let cats and dogs in or out. One of the people cut in, with annoyance, "Might as well call it a raccoon door." What's great about that line is that you don't even have to ask, "So, what happened?" Hee.

Someday, remind me to tell you about the time a possum got in my bedroom. No, I'm not kidding.
mollyringle: (Dirk - wrath)
Ants. My biggest pet peeve in the world right now might be ants. It's not like we're slobs. It's not like we leave sticky Twinkie wrappers all over the floor, and globs of gravy on the counter. But from the number of "odorous house ants" in our life, you would think we did just that. They will find anything available. No human can keep up with them. They're always inside the dishwasher. A single muffin crumb under the table will attract dozens, as will a single drop of French toast batter on the stove from one hour earlier. They have bored into apples in the fruit bowl, zeroed in on a speck of something in the bathroom sink, and climbed the shower curtain in search of God knows what. You'd think the bedroom would be safe, being food-free and on the second floor. But no! They prove me wrong. There was a bit of food. There was a tin of Altoids, in a drawer; the top drawer, in fact. But they got into it. You caught me, you clever ants; stupid me, daring to keep anything edible anywhere within reach of you. You also caught me in my slovenly habit of putting a glass of water on the headboard at night. Yep, there were about 30 of you swarming it this morning. Water. Heaven forbid I should do anything irresponsible like keep water in the open. We've put out bait traps, but you only seem mildly interested in those. Glasses of water and individual molecules of jam residue are far more enticing, apparently.

I look it up, and find that even exterminators have trouble eradicating this type of ant, since finding the nest is often difficult. And even if you do find one nest, there are likely lots more that you haven't found. You just have to do what you can to discourage the critters. Which, when your hands are full with a baby, is not as much as you might normally be able to do. Having a baby around also makes you warier of using poisons, so pesticide is not my favorite idea anyway. Thus we're back to not being able to keep Altoids, water, or fruit in the open.

I just hate how much of an inferior person it makes me feel--I mean, it seems that you must be some kind of lazy disgusting loser, to have a bug problem in your house. So, reassure me, people: tell me you have bug problems you cannot conquer. I know there are worse ones to have, so remind me. The bright side is they're not fire ants, scorpions, carpenter ants, termites, funnel-web spiders...OK, fine, things could be worse. Still. It's hugely annoying. I blame the former homeowners, as with everything else that goes wrong in this structure.

Baby is well, though. New-ish pic here:
http://pics.livejournal.com/lemonlye/pic/0000q5q3

On a tangent: though all his hues-of-blue clothes are pleasant, I find myself wishing I had picked up a gaudy Hawaiian-print onesie while we were in Maui. They had them in the gift shops. Would have been cute.
mollyringle: (monkeemen)
You know, I just have one simple request, and that is to have frickin' dolphins with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads.

Heh.

I know the dolphins and sea lions don't quite realize the possible danger they're in, but even so, I think it's way cool that they can do this. For this honor, they are now on my top four list of Best Non-Human Mammals. (Sharing space with dogs and elephants.)

("Best" here means "most useful to humans.")

(No, I will not add cats to this list.)

Edit, 3/26/03, roughly 12:40 p.m.:
OK, look, people:
This is MY list of best mammals; you guys can like cats better than dogs for whatever crazy reasons you want. You just won't convince me. Because I'd like you to show me cats who sniff out drugs/bombs/criminals/missing persons, guide the blind down the street, herd sheep/cattle, bring medical supplies to people on battlefields or in avalanches and lie down beside them to keep them warm, or jump into icy water and haul a drowning person to shore.

You might find a few individual cats who can be trained to do some of these things. But you will find, for every one of those cats, whole armies of dogs who can do the same thing, and do it willingly.

Yes, there are stupid useless dogs out there. Lots of them. Yes, cats can be pretty and soft and warm, and when they're not being schizophrenic they can actually be friendly. But on average, dogs blow cats out of the water in terms of actual applied usefulness to and cooperation with humans. I just do not find this disputable. We've spent a lot more time breeding dogs for specifically these uses. Maybe equal breeding with cats (start with a larger variety, I'd suggest, like tigers) would someday return the same results; who knows.

By the way, Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein would probably agree with all you cat-lovers and dog-despisers. Islamic fundamentalists usually revere cats but hate dogs. Quite frequent to have dogs banned and killed in some of the more brutal Islamic countries. I think this tells us a lot. ;)

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