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Collection of interesting natural things

I took the picture above to see if I could get a good shot of the ocelli - three secondary eyes between the big ones. They are just about visible. Why spanning tree? It's a routing term, from each user's perspective the network looks like a spanning tree - with no loops and only one route to any place. Every user's spanning tree is unique.

Psychological egg-tooth

Writing Posted on Sat, April 28, 2012 06:42:07

Is the reason why religion is so popular, because it has been a psychological egg-tooth for humanity?

Why hasn’t the egg-tooth fallen off? Is it because, like fire, you have to experience it personally?

If so, what a calamity for humanity, that we have to carry the weight of religion with us.

Fossil Urchin

Science Posted on Sun, April 22, 2012 19:23:07

Found this today – remarkable flint fossil.

What look like barnacles on the base are symmetrically and evenly positioned around the centre line. The whole thing has 5 fold symmetry, with typical urchin like tracks leading to the point at the top of the dome.

The small panels with raised encrusted edges are particularly attractive, like a Faberge egg.

Common carder bee

Science Posted on Fri, April 20, 2012 15:24:52

Difficult to capture on camera, a common carder bee Bombus pascuorum

Beetle tracks

Science Posted on Mon, April 16, 2012 20:14:51

Bark Beetle – Leperisinus varius

I guess, although I didn’t catch any, I’ll have a closer look. In ash log, felled 2 years ago. How do they avoid other tunnels? Side to side as well as end on?

King Alfred

Science Posted on Mon, April 16, 2012 19:47:37

His cakes

About 8 cm across…

and here are a few others…

All coming out of the cambium, and while we are at interesting fungi…


Writing Posted on Tue, April 03, 2012 14:02:18

Just finished reading John Steinbeck – Travels with Charley. What a brilliantly written book. It is the first factual diary that has had me gripped like a thriller. I started reading it to appreciate the style of writing, but within a few pages I had forgotten that duty and was just carried along with the story. It was a story of a journey, a reflective trip around the USA as Steinbeck was beginning to feel his age and mortality. Steinbeck took his dog, Charley, and a motor home based on a pick up truck. Typically of Steinbeck he focused on individuals and small things in order to paint a wider picture. It was written in 1960 and these were particularly interesting times in the USA. The stated aim of the trip was to reconnect to ordinary Americans and re-engage as a writer should, with his core subject material. The sub text was that he was quite rich and famous by then, although apparently could get by without being recognised and wanted to act as a common traveller and meet people on equal terms.

The book started lightheartedly and optimistically and Steinbeck soon found familiar themes in his meeting and drinking with labourers and his love of countryside and country folk. His problems with traffic in larger towns and cities was a source of amusing self deprecation. The story pivots around his return to the west coast. He started on the East coast. After visiting his old haunts he realises that he can never go back to the place and people as they were and he is concerned about the enormous growth of cities. From there the narrative turns darker. He describes Texas in light detail, concerned mainly about his dog (who had developed a painful medical problem) and his extended family whom he visits with his wife. She joins him several times on the trip. He then moves directly to New Orleans and the problems with racism. He visits the ‘cheerleaders’ as they hound and abuse students attending a mixed race school. He describes the situation beautifully. He is careful to avoid too much criticism of people but finally loses it with one racist hitch hiker. After this he decides the trip is over, although he still had a long way to drive, he stays to the main roads and tells us little about the scenery. His final problems with traffic in New York are described as real frustration and the impotence of the old.

Overall the book is a masterpiece of story telling. Steinbeck uses the dog as a source of humour, a device with which to maintain a conversation, and a kind of thermometer of his mood as the journey progresses. In the end the dog is cured of immediate illness, and happy, but subdued and feeling its age. Perhaps the same was true of the author. His style of writing is brilliant, he describes conversations with strangers as fully formed smaller stories. He uses the arc of the physical journey to describe his feelings about his country and the people. It is a vehicle for Steinbeck to explain how he feels growing old and one feels honoured to be able to read it.

Previous projects

Diary Posted on Mon, April 02, 2012 17:39:47

This one seems to have come off rather well…

Cherry trees

Diary Posted on Tue, March 27, 2012 11:14:01

Cherry trees came out today, full of bees,

How can you capture that in a photo?
This the best I can do with my equipment.

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