Friday, April 24, 2009


I have neglected my blog because there has been too much to say, not too little. I may try to do catch-up posts soon. But the necessity of filling in the gaps when there is so much to fill them with has had the effect of making me put off starting--not good blogging strategy.

In the past week I feel like my life has turned right side up. I mean it just exactly like that, as if things were opposite how they should have been before and I didn't even know it. Briefly, I got and accepted a job offer; went to a conference where my work was praised and critiqued and appreciated (I'd totally forgotten what that felt like--I realize I had especially missed receiving well-considered criticism); formed new friendships and strengthened old ones... and suddenly I feel about 300% more connected to life and the world.

Suddenly I feel like I can actually do things. Maybe even write this dissertation.

It makes me think that life might work as evolution is hypothesized to, by a process of punctuated equilibrium. If so, this is the moment of punctuation!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Great Things are Afoot hermit-crab land. It was back in July that I first acquired Intrepid and Pokey. Pokey unfortunately never emerged from his molt. Intrepid did, but became a most unsatisfying pet, exceedingly timid (ironically), and mostly staying holed up in hiding all the time. His unsatisfactory petitude caused me to hesitate about throwing good money after bad, so to speak, and replacing Pokey. Also the weather has been so cold that it's hard to transport the little guys. However, a few days ago, I finally decided to get another crab.

They had some really big ones at the pet store. As usual, I asked for the smallest one, figuring that it would be least likely to be suffering from delayed molting problems. It came in a garish orange painted shell. When I put it in the tank, it was exceedingly cautious and didn't move at all for quite some time. Because of the cautiousness and the diamond pattern on the shell, I decided to name it Confucius.

Little did I know that that very night Confucius was going to shake up the whole hermit crab world!

I had put a little pile of cut-up pear core in the food dish. When I came back in the morning, the pear was all scattered, and the orange patterned shell was lying vacant!! Confucius had changed his shell for a much larger one.

You can just barely see his little claw sticking out of it in the above photo (front center). The discarded shell is lying in the background.

Furthermore, this big shell was not the first one Confucius had tried. Another, somewhat smaller, shell was sitting in the middle of the water dish. If Confucius didn't put it there, I don't see who did.

Finally, while I watched, Confucius attempted to drag a large chunk of pear down the whole length of the tank into a hole he had dug for himself. I must say intrepid never did anything nearly this interesting!

I am now more enthusiastic about hermit crab ownership than I have been in a really long time.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Hat and Scarf

My mama sent me and Pocket of Bolts an Easter box which contained many amusing things. Among them, this Easter hat and scarf. I'm not used to wearing scarves. I have trouble doing the folding--or draping, or whatever--correctly. Still, this one I found quite appealing, and in addition to wearing it for this photo, I wore it all day yesterday! Pocket of Bolts pronounced it "jaunty and pretty." I think there's something about this picture that makes me look a tiny bit like my maternal grandmother. Whether it's the hat or something else, I'm not sure. Maybe it's just that when Pocket of Bolts takes pictures of me, I always look short. My grandmother was short too, shorter than me. Almost everyone else in my family is taller than average.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

March Trip to China 7: Huanggang Sights

Here are some more photos from the small city of Huanggang, all taken near the Su Shi museum, on the others side of the wall. First, directly across the wall, a little patch of garden, completely invisible from the amusement park side.

Not far from that, a building I found particularly interesting because of the looseness of its bricks.

Finally, just a slightly melancholy street scene. There's some kind of beauty in these kinds of images, I think, although it's hard to say just what that beauty is.

Friday, April 03, 2009

March Trip to China 6: Su Shi Red Cliff Museum

Su Shi was a famous poet of the Song dynasty. In Huanggang (right next the amusement part) there's a museum dedicated to him. It was, rare for China, almost totally deserted. Also in fairly bad repair, but still an interesting place to visit.

Just a few small images from the place.

There was a room with many stone carved poems and paintings. This is a "longevity window" in the wall, together with the reflections on the protective glass.

A sealed door; probably the complex used to be even bigger but the rest is sealed off. Falling into complete disrepair, I suppose.

A table and chairs being slowly uprooted by the nearby tree...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

March Trip to China 5: Huanggang Amusement Park

This is the view from above of an amusement park in the small city of Huanggang. There was a swaying "Viking boat" ride, an inflatable funhouse, archery practice, roller-skating and much much more.

One of more ingenious and unfamiliar parts of the amusement park: some pedal horses that inch along when pedaled. Very cool.