A gorgeous painting of Australopithecus afarensis by paleoartist Viktor Deak. They’ve uncovered hundreds of these guys, who seem to have been around for about a million years three to four million years ago, and though back in the Lucy days it was thought that she and her species were our direct ancestors, now it’s thought that Australopithecines were related to our direct ancestors, but didn’t lead eventually to us. Sadly, they were on a dead end evolutionary path, and at some point in the three million years since this picture would have been taken, her line and all the genetic info it contained came to an end. The oblivion of extinction. Still, she takes a nice painting.
Not to change the subject, but this is how evolution gets all fucked up.
I’d never bought a Sink Water Faucet Tip Swivel Nozzle Adaptor Kitchen Aerator Tap Chrome Connector before. I’d always thought it was a metaphor.
OK, I didn’t think it was a metaphor. That was the opener. It didn’t work. Forget it. But to smoothly segue, Sink Water Faucet Tip Swivel Nozzle Adaptor Kitchen Aerator Tap Chrome Connector would be one word in German. And our brand new Sink Water Faucet Tip Swivel Nozzle Adaptor Kitchen Aerator Tap Chrome Connector works beautifully, without shaking the plumbing to death like the aerator with far fewer syllables I bought last week and wasn’t even pronounceable in German. A 2 Flow Faucet Aerator, that one. Actually if you include the description beyond the comma it was a 2 Flow Faucet Aerator, Dual-function Water Saving Sink Aerator Replacement, which rolls across the tongue with all grace and beauty of a sentence in a technical manual. No wonder the pipes shuddered and belched air. It’s so agglutinatively icky, something better translated into one of those endless sentence-in-a-word Turkish words. There’s something morphologically magical about those endless rows of nouns that we in English insist are just that, rows of nouns, but the German sees as one long glorious compound noun, a single word, but maybe that’s just me, and I seem to have digressed. Getting back to our story, this Sink Water Faucet Tip Swivel Nozzle Adaptor Kitchen Aerator Tap Chrome Connector is so hip and sleekly modern it’s just got to be digital, and I must have wasted ten minutes trying to convince the thing to aerate the water (it’s not named Siri, anyway) till I gave up and used the Sink Water Faucet Tip Swivel Nozzle Adaptor Kitchen Aerator Tap Chrome Connector handle thing. Turns out it’s just as analog as the ancient faucet from 1931 that was here when we moved in thirty years ago. You have to turn it on by hand and water comes out. The one we replaced two nozzles back (was that really only two weeks ago?) could go from gush to spritz with a bump and back to a gush with a tug. Talk about a conceptual step up from the binary gush/no gush. What will they think of next. But the Sink Water Faucet Tip Swivel Nozzle Adaptor Kitchen Aerator Tap Chrome Connector looks digital anyway. A jarring touch of the modern in our Art Deco kitchen. No, I won’t post a photo. I’ll be damned if I’m going to take a picture of a faucet. Writing Sink Water Faucet Tip Swivel Nozzle Adaptor Kitchen Aerator Tap Chrome Connector over and over is embarrassing enough. And Sink Water Faucet Tip Swivel Nozzle Adaptor Kitchen Aerator Tap Chrome Connector embarrassment would be one word in German.
Sorry there’s no more of the great gobs of prose I used to spill out all over these blogs. People have been asking. Alas, epilepsy was really fucking with the long essays, and I finally had to stop. Had to stop working too. Had to stop just about everything. It’s been a couple years now and the synapses have calmed down nicely. They seem to like being bored. Me not so much at first but I’ve adapted. So I write tiny little essays now, scarcely ever longer than a paragraph. Hence all this tinyness where vastness used to be. Little gems, I tell myself. The actual gemage might be debatable, but they’re my blogs. You can think everything you do is art if no one is editing you.
Anyway, thanks for reading and feel free to complain.
If I got this right, a polyp reproduces asexually, budding by cell division into little bumps that become tiny jellyfish that float about and grow and finally do some sort of jellyfish touchless fuck thing involving male jellyfish releasing vast hordes of sperm into the water and letting the little buggers find their way to a female jellyfish’s ovum which, once fertilized, gives birth to a cillia driven little squiggle which finds its way onto a surface somewhere to develop into another polyp and begin the cycle anew. Luckily for us, we aren’t descended from cnidarians, which is what jellyfish are, cnidarians. Instead we did the whole vertebrate thing, which is why love is not a many polyped thing.
I had no idea that searching for a new dish rack—dish drying rack in the trade—would open me up to an entire universe of dish rackery of all shapes, sizes, materials, and functions, none of which are even close to the old fashioned dish racks we’ve been using for decades now. At least none were digital, though maybe I didn’t look hard enough. To think that in less deadly times I could just pluck one of the obsolescent models from the shelf at Target in a wide variety of three colors from white to blue to green. Now I’ve been searching for an hour to no avail. I actually got lost in Wayfair, I typed dish rack in the search window (populated sounds so dirty) and was zapped into a vast collection of dish racks from all over the galaxy, not one of which looked even remotely like the simple things we used to use on earth a decade ago. Bathroom rugs were easy, though, pretty green ones. Fyl picked them out. They’re smart rugs. You’re peeing on me, it says, and in various languages. I like the music. Then she went to the Victoria’s Secret site to buy underwear. The models were so young and gorgeous I felt even dirtier looking than I did populating the search window, so I put a CD in the TV and listened to music from Australia recorded upside down.
I remember when this thing started last spring my wife and I began isolating immediately, and I mean seriously isolating. No socializing, no shopping, never forgetting that the deadliest people in a pandemic like this are your friends and family. The maskless looney at the grocery store is a threat, but if you come down with Covid you most likely were infected by one of your pals or loved ones. I’m not sure just how many people are aware of this even now, or how many are willing to sacrifice all their in person social ties to help kill off the pandemic, but that’s why California is being swept by the pandemic now. We do wear masks, we do socially distance, but only from strangers. Around friends and family the distances shrink, the masks inevitably come off. We laugh, we shout hellos, we hug, we get buzzed and talk too loud, talk at the same time, get too excited to realize that it’s very likely that someone in your smallish circle hanging around a single table just infected everyone else sitting there. If you die of Covid, it was probably one of your friends or loved ones who killed you.
But only for a little bit longer. See you all next summer.
This is wild. Crows in this study could tell that recordings of people speaking Japanese (the language of the researchers) was different from recordings of people speaking Dutch. We can’t do that listening to birds. Unless we were a highly trained specialist, we couldn’t distinguish between mockingbird songs in one part of the country from mockingbird songs in another part of the country, though each song has a ‘dialect” that makes them mutually unintelligible. All the mockingbird would know is that another mockingbird is yelling at it. It has to learn to sing in the local dialect (meaning mockingbirds have learned cultures, actually.) But when a crow hears recordings of humans speaking different languages, it can tell that we are not speaking the same language, and it reacts to them differently. They were used to Japanese. They were wary of the recording in Dutch. What were they hearing? Japanese isn’t tonal like Chinese, so it’s not that the crows can tell that one is melodic and the other not. Can they detect the different phonemes (the vowel and consonant sounds) the languages use? Can they distinguish stresses, like what part of a sentence rises or drops? Can they detect the specific rhythms or sound patterns of grammar? How is it that a goddam bird can tell if a person is speaking Dutch or speaking Japanese while we with our enormous brains can’t tell if a recording of a mockingbird screaming at five in the morning is in Southern California Mockingbirdese or Danish Mockingbirdese? I can write about the concept of a crow distinguishing human languages, but damn if I can imagine what it is they actually hear in our human sounds.
You wouldn’t think you could have a climate change caused ecological disaster in our fish tank. But last week’s heat wave was so extreme it overheated the water, killing a few of the fish as well as unseen zillions of microscopic algae. Days later they clogged the filter in a rank slimy dark mass and very quickly turned the water anoxic and disgustingly rank. Lost a couple fish. I think the last of our herd of danios was rendered extinct. I was looking for the clown loach in the cloudy water. It’s five inches long, tiger striped and a furiously active beast, but there was neither hide nor hair. Nor scale. Suddenly like a vision out of Moby Dick it appeared, it’s creamy white underside a flash of light in the gloom, desperately trying to reach the surface and oxygen. It hung vertically in the water, gasping, slowly suffocating. I reached in and grabbed at it but it slipped out of my fingers and disappeared into the plants. I began thinking about where to get his replacement (they’re champion snail eaters .) Then it was there again, hanging vertically, surreal, dying. I took a bucket, put a couple inches of water in it, and grabbed the loach again, it was too weak to wriggle free. I dropped it in the bucket. It rested on the bottom with its mouth at the surface, barely breathing. Nothing more I could do. An hour later I heard some furious thrashing about in the bucket. A temper tantrum was a good sign. I added more water. Within two hours it was back to its surly self. When I’m done with the aquarium clean up—you don’t even wanna know what comes up when you siphon the floor of a fish tank—and replace a third of the water, I’ll put him back in. The filter has already cleaned and oxygenated the water to such a degree that the platys and wandering about picking up food on the bottom—they spent the last couple days at the very top. I had a fan blowing across the surface all night as well, and though I’m not sure how it definitely helps to oxygenate (and cool) the water, like a cooling ocean breeze. The fish certainly dug it, all of them scurrying about where the air flow is strongest. Fish, who the fuck knows. Anyway, another crisis averted. Not quite as creepy as when the zebra danios became pescicidal maniacs, but definitely more icky.
I suppose you want a picture. Better yet a video. Here, a perfectly healthy clown loach. Animal Planet, call me.
You’ll be pleased to find out that I just purchased twenty ghost shrimp on EBay. I thought the loach had eaten the previous herd of ten, but I was delighted to discover there were survivors. So now I’m getting a bunch more, figuring the loach will take his share but the rest will be around to partake in the great fish dying due anytime now, as the vast herd of platys reaches their life expectancy and bloops their last bloop. Some fish corpses float, some sink. The floaters I scoop up with the net and toss into the planter out front. No point in wasting good fertilizer. The sinkers are a pain in the ass. So the shrimp get those. They can reduce a fish carcass to nothing in a matter of days. I’d rather not think about it. And the platys own culinary kinks guarantee the population will not recover, because a platy’s favorite dish is fresh born platy. None of the babies survive the feasts, and as there is no longer a dense jungle of floating vegetation for the fry to hide in—they ate that too, for roughage I guess—the babies are easy pickings. You can see the adults gathering together and leisurely devouring platy DNA. It’s fucked up. But it did neatly stop the aquarium’s population explosion, and there was one baby, as in a single fish, that has made it to adulthood in the past year. They’re efficient, you gotta give them that. So efficient they’re eating themselves into extinction in our tank. Platys live three to four years, typically, but invariably fish in our tank live to the outer edge of their life expectancy, so I won’t be surprised to see many of them last for five. But eventually the lot of them, nearly all of which born in a single year, will go to fish heaven, leaving all sorts of niches for us to fill with species that don’t fuck so goddamn much. Some fish have no shame at all.