I'm migrating

Like all critters, people are forced into situations where they must leave their current setting in search of more fertile opportunities elsewhere. This is seen daily across the world, in places like Darfur or Gaza as refugees leave war-torn countrysides. War, however, is not the only type of oppression people wish to flee from in search of greener pastures. Economic oppression can force many to make dangerous and life-changing migrations over hundreds of miles with little more than that which they carry on their backs. There are potent examples of such migrants here in the southwest, who will risk their lives for the welfare of their family and community who could not displace themselves. Hundreds of people succumb to their journeys every year, perishing needlessly in the heat of the desert, on the tracks of north-bound trains, crossing rivers, and confrontations with gangs and smugglers (people smugglers, that is). All of this is exemplified by the travesty of lost lives here in Southern Arizona. As the summer progresses and the temperatures rise people are dying daily trying to reach the green fields of El Norte. According to crossingRisk, on the 4th of July there is an 87% chance that someone, somewhere will die attempting the human migration into the states. That's because the temperatures are predicted to reach upwards of 110 degrees in the baking sun.

I'll be thinking about this as I make my migration tomorrow. I am not journeying through treacherous deserts; nor am I venturing to navigate a swollen river. I am also not leaving my home and community with little prospect of return within a reasonable time. I am going TO my home and family in PA. I'll be cutting through the stratosphere tucked away in the belly of a 747 and arriving just hours after I leave my house here in Tucson. Not as epic as some journeys. Not really a grand migration either.

At least it'll be cooler up home.


What was this critter thinking?

Luckily the one I was about to grab didn't eviscerate my hand! That would've taught me a valuable lesson I reckon.

This is a classic example of, "holy cow, that's creepy."

This centipede is the same species (I think) that I've been working on lately in lab. Known to those in the know as Scolopendra subspinipes... or colloquially as "Big F***ing Scary Critter!" Of all the species of centipedes out there, and there are quite a few, this is the second largest or so. I've seen some in excess of 10 inches from tip of antennae to last appendage. They are not the most dangerous though. The little ones can sometimes carry a more painful sting, albeit with less creep value. Just so you know, they still have very little brains and probably just walk around worrying about where the next defenseless little mouse is going to come from. That and constantly trying NOT to stub their multitude toes on bits and pieces of the underbrush.

Luckily, as a class they've had hundreds of millions of years to come to terms with the fact that they have so damn many legs. In fact, their bodies have a nerve cord that is very much capable of moving the critter about without input from the brain. How do I know this? When I go for their brains I have to cut their head off at the expense of the body. That doesn't stop the body from running around all by itself. There are central pattern generators that let the headless centipede body scamper, climb, curl, and clutch as if it were still attached to it's brain. We've all heard of someone "running around like a chicken with its head chopped off," well, I'm going to start saying "running around like a 'pede with its brain out!" The kicker? The body can live for more than two hours like this. Yuck.

Just thought you'd like to know.

photo courtesy of: http://www.insectaculture.com/ssubspinipes.htm


Twister Elbow

It may seem obvious, but just in case you were wondering, it is hot here in Tucson. How hot? Damn hot. Hotter than the inside of a live chicken, even. But, what makes those dry baking desert summer nights even hotter? That's right, TWISTER! The classic game of strength, endurance, contortion, and utter humiliation!! Last night Tucson
was home to a twister bonanza courtesy of my buddy Matt who had the wherewithal and forethought to make it that kind of party. Unfortunately I don't have any risque pictures to accompany this post (yet), but I'm sure if you Google image search "twister" you'll get lots of great results of people having a grand old time trying to out-maneuver their opponents for a right-foot red, or a left-hand green... go ahead, google image search twister, I'm going to right now...


ok, well, I have a new found respect for that little plastic ground cloth and cardboard spinner.

So I was thinking last night while my left hand was reaching through my friends' legs to land on a yellow dot and my right leg was being straddled by two left-leg greens that it would be a lot harder to play twister if you were a mere critter. Imagine what the spinner would have to say. "Left middle appendage yellow," or "Right claw blue," or "Stinger yellow"... Things could get dicey if the millipedes show up (right-500-legs-red). Luckily we only had to play with other people last night, which makes things a little easier, I guess. It was fortunate that no one was seriously hurt (except for a bruised ego here or there) with all the flying limbs and bodies we saw. I do have a bit of twister elbow though. I'm pretty sure I got it when I got an ass in the face and someone stole my right-hand spot before I could get to it and I had to spill hard. Next time we're playing for keeps, one fall, one piece of clothing, until only I'm left clothed! Hopefully this guy doesn't show up.


Critter Brain

Well, I've finally done it. I'm blogging. Now the real question, "What should I blog about?"

I don't have a baby, so I can't blog about that. I don't have chickens, so I can't blog about them. I do have a garden, I could blog about that... but I'll bet there's lots of blogs out there about gardening already. What aren't there lots of blogs about yet? BUG BRAINS! So, there here it is. My blog about bug brains. Go ahead, try and find a better blog about bug brains, I dare you. I'll bet you can't!

Mission Accomplished.