Who’s That Gorilla?

On 4 December 2003, a western lowland gorilla gave birth at Louisville Zoo. Papa John’s pizza was conducting a contest for providing the baby gorilla with a name. I submitted an entry, but apparently I’ve lost. Damn. The name had to be for a male gorilla and had to be of African origin. I chose the name “Hamisi” which means “born on a Thursday”…which of course, this gorilla had been BORN on a Thursday. Makes sense…it’s kind of a cool name.

But alas…the rules stated the winner would be notified during the week of 3 February 2004. And damn it, nobody’s called me. At least I’ve won those sleep with the sharks tickets for the Point Defiance Zoo. And they think sleeping with the sharks is just for the kids. Sheesh. The winner of the gorilla-naming contest is supposed to be announced in a week or two, maybe on February 24th. Let’ see what this winning name is, I don’t think it can beat Hamisi. As a matter of fact, I’m going to continue referring to this little guy as Hamisi. When I go and visit the zoo, I’m going to yell out, “Hey Hamisi, Hamisi, look at me!” Boy will THEY be surprised. As if he wasn’t born on a Thursday.

Valentine’s Day at the Library

Hey great, yesterday was Valentine’s Day. Was I out celebrating love in the company of a young vixen? Damn it, no. I woke up early, found nothing in the refrigerator, and ate two slices of pizza that had been sitting out for (I think) two days. Hey, I nuked it in the microwave, and I’m still alive. Then I took a shower and went in to work. My head was rumbling with a dull headache, either I was coming down with something or I had a mild hangover from Friday night. Probably the latter.

After work, I tried to go into Sawasdee, my favorite restaurant in the vicinity of my home. Unfortunately for me, they wouldn’t be opening for another hour. I told the owner I’d be back later. To kill the time, I decided to take my short stack of proteomics books back to the IUPUI library…they were about due anyway. To be honest, there were more students in the library than I thought there would be on a Saturday. Everytime I visit the library I see scores of unused iMacs and I berate myself for not sitting down and figuring out how to use one.

Anyway, I took another look at the stacks. I love wandering around in unfamiliar academic libraries. The fourth floor at the IUPUI library has all the science books and journals, similar to my college days back at NIU. But the quantities of books in all subjects are drastically different. Very poor in the kingdoms of life…with the exception of the plant kingdom. Lots of plant stuff in this library. Almost nothing at all on fish. Little on ecology in general, honestly. But NIU was lacking in books about bioinformatics, about genomics, about proteomics…and in this field IUPUI was loaded. These are the tradeoffs. I wanted to know what else was on the floor…geology, engineering, management, hordes of chemistry journals. In one corner I found books about fashion and clothing and weaving. I picked up a copy of an unauthorized biography of Ralph Lauren. This one I’m reading right now; I’ll probably put up a post about it later. Let’s see, what else did I check out for my bout of “pleasure reading”…a book called “Myxomycetes, a handbook of slime molds” and one called “From the forest to the sea, the ecology of wood in streams, rivers, estuaries, and oceans.” I’ve been dying to brush up on my slime molds. I guess I’ve been aware of their existence ever since Mr. Winn made us memorize their phylum in high school biology…but I’ve never had a real chance to study them. Garry mentioned them back at Friday Harbor Labs…but only in passing, saying that anyone who studied them would be funded for life. From what I remember, it’s difficult to classify them, since they share characteristics of both fungi and animals. I’ve been trying to persuade my good old buddy DePauw that we should make a trip the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and try to make an expedition out of finding these slime molds. I think we’ll make it.

From Russia On Business

My dear friend Katia happened to be in the country this past week. I was so fortunate…she drove down from Chicago for business in Indianapolis, and I got to see her on Wednesday. What can I say, she’s the best. These days I only get to see her, what…once every two years now.

She told me “guess what, she’s a hungry girl tonight” and said she wanted some Italian food. What the hell do I know, I never go out to restaurants by myself. At least not that often. I was thinking about Bravo’s over by my place, but then I discovered there was a Bravo’s across the street from the mall. Katia likes nice classy restaurants with nice classy drinks, and I figured Bravo’s would fit nicely. Anyway…I learned an important lesson Wednesday night…Costco is on the NORTH side of Castleton Mall, and NOT the south side. I guess I drove all the way around the mall to find Galyan’s. So I looked like a complete idiot when I tried to drive to the north side of the mall to find Bravo’s. We only got separated twice. So I’m a bad leader when there’s another car following me. Luckily I can tell the difference between the headlights of most cars and the headlights of her Mercedes. And I wasn’t technically lost, I was just unaware of my current location in relation to the location of my destination. Hmm.

The food was good, and I liked their apple martinis. For some reason, I was been flapping my jaws way too much in the company of women. It’s starting to bug me a little bit, because they usually complain that I’m way to quiet. It’s either on or off, I guess. I laughed so hard when I heard her explain the concept of these new European malls which are trying to be more like American malls. Here in the good old USA, we have malls anchored by major department stores. In Europe, they’re anchored by IKEA…and in her words, a Russian department store, the French version of Super-Walmart, and the German version of Home Depot. It’s funny to try and imagine such a thing. It feels like “French” and “Super-Walmart” should be antonyms.

While she was away in the women’s room, a lady walked up to the bar where we sitting and started stroking her mink coat. I think she’d never see one before. Seriously now. She was stroking it for a full two minutes, with her husband waiting for her to finish. I mean come on now. She looked at me and asked, “is this full mink”? I just said, “maybe, I don’t know.” Because I am not a fur expert. She just kept stroking it, I thought maybe I should tell her something like “you can touch this next.” Luckily she was gone when Katia came back, otherwise there would have been hell to pay. Remind me to tell you the story of outside the Green Mill.

Stevens Beats Buchanan

I was sitting in the Barnes & Noble cafe earlier today, slowly sucking down a Cafe Mocha. My first time in that particular store, and I happened to have a short stack of magazines for browsing. I’d actually gone to find an interior design magazine that had a good color photo of a complementary color scheme. Why? For a project for class, that’s why. I found one pretty easily (but I am horrible at mixing greens and purples) so I decided to sit for a while, read up, and basically do anything but go home and work on homework.

So I picked up a copy of Smithsonian, primarily because I was interested in the cover…the feature article was about “Rescuing Angkor.” Pretty interesting…a lot of nice detail shots. I think this was where Lara Croft went Tomb Raiding, isn’t that correct? I’ll have to check. Anyway, I think a cooler article discussed a lesser known relationship, the one between Thaddeus Stevens and James Buchanan. Who are these guys? Come on, don’t you remember our 15th President? You know, “the one before Abraham Lincoln.” What’s interesting is the fact that these bitter rivals were practically neighbors. The irony.

The author argues that James Buchanan is arguably the worst of all of our Presidents, and perhaps is right. Under his weak leadership, the unity of the nation broke down and lead right into Civil War. It’s interesting to note that Buchanan is responsible for a list of things that contributed to the prevention of war. He did not recall the army from remote outposts in the west to where they were needed for peacekeeping in the east. He sent the navy on an expedition to Paraguay, where they would be out of reach in a time of need. Rather than focus on domestic affairs, he strategized on the process of conquering Cuba.

Thaddeus Stevens is perhaps best known as a defender of human rights, and holds a great share of responsibility in getting the 14th and 15th amendments passed. He was a stout advocate of the belief that slaves should be freed and treated as equals in all respects…recently, a team of student excavators has unearthed what appears to be a secret hiding place for runaway slaves.

Really, this article is worth a look. It’ll even help you brush up on your American history.