January 13th, 2012

Ann Vole

Skunks and bears

The difference between skunks and ferrets is minimal but the key differences are using more of their back foot when walking (ferrets walk on the base of their toes but skunk feet make contact half-way to their heel) and skunks are omnivores instead of almost pure carnivores like ferrets. I read that raccoons and related animals (both types of panda, kinkajous, olingos, cacomistle, coatis) are tested to be very close genetically to bears and in general have those two characteristics that make skunks to not be ferrets. With all this testing to determine which species are in the new family of skunk-like creatures instead of the weasel-like family, I would assume their relationship to bears would also have been determined (this post is to remind me to check sometime). I find relationships like this help see the personalities and physical motion characteristics of species I will not be able to have as pets (such as skunks) for story writing and for animation. Watching YouTube videos of pet skunks helps but is never as informative as watching the species in person (like I am doing now with my ferrets).
Ann Vole

Three fates for GIDs

Gender Identity Dysphoria or GID is where the mind is designed as one gender but the body is designed for a different gender. If the current information on people with GID is correct, this difference is physical rather then psychological. The three possibilities for someone with GID are 1) live with it 2) change genders or 3) become a homosexual. Suicide rates for those who "live with it" is estimated to 47% (if I read that right, it is 47% who die rather then just those who try). Clearly living with it is hard for lots of people. Changing genders is a social nightmare and a physical thing that needs hormone therapy while growing to do it right. If it is done, the person will no longer be able to procreate. New brain scan techniques could positively identify if someone has a physical case of GID but it is hard to know if they will be at risk of suicide and what their feelings are about adopting if they do decide to have children. How many homosexuals are GID cases as well is hard to say. I doubt the percentage will not be extreme one way or the other. For a society that generally views homosexuals as morally wrong or at least social outcasts, that option (let them become homosexuals) is as bad as (and essentially the same as) forcing them to just live with it. Personally, I think I have grown up as a GID (but never had a brain scan to be sure) and did fine as a "just live with it" (and not become a homosexual). As a result, I have no interest in procreating nor interest in the opposite gender thus I would not have minded a sex change but at the same time would not have needed one either. Note that GID is NOT the same as inter-gender people who are born with genitals that are somewhere between male and female but rather GID people have normal genitals for one of the genders and a brain that is normal for the opposite gender. Brain scans of this type might be very effective at determining the gender to choose for an inter-gender baby
Ann Vole

Critter Update

Both of the baby chinchillas had their eyes glued shut most of the time but appeared healthy and active otherwise. One died after about 10 days and the other after about 3 weeks. Both seemed to have body fat and healthy bodies after death too so not sure what did them in. Their mother is now pregnant again. All 7 of the babies born a few months ago are healthy and almost adult size and weight. 4 of the adult degus are pregnant and some are getting quite wide but I am suspecting they have a week or two more to go. The lemming got sick (posted about it) but seems to be back to health but just not as plump as before (probably a good thing). The ferrets are getting fat though and I plan to add "weeping tile" plastic piping to their cage for exercise until I can provide more space for them to climb stuff. All the mice died while still in Colfax because the lemming dropped lots of litter on the water bottles I gave the mice which drained their water (mice dehydrate very fast compared to most other rodents). The mouse I caught later escaped somehow (tall pail with wire lid... Should have worked but it disappeared after about 5 days of captivity with no obvious escape route). With lots of live-catch traps set, I assume the mouse is staying away from my pets but may be smart enough to be trap shy of the many types of traps set.
Ann Vole

local green

There is a conference at my university showcasing research at the local universities (within the province of Saskatchewan) on the topic "Putting Theory into Practice: Creating Community Sustainability". I think I should make sure I attend in April 1-2. Note that it starts on April Fools Day. The schedule is found here:

http://www.urgsa.ca/schedule
Ann Vole

Sam and Pheobe

Since I read the names of the two voice actors who did the two young squirrel kids on "The Gruffalo", I have had the urge to make this post. I feel the need to make a pair of sibling squirrel characters with their names (Sam and Pheobe). I don't know why I find those names so perfect for the unnamed squirrels in the show but they have shown up in my dreams with those names.
Ann Vole

Transportation and food

I decided that I need to live at the university to succeed in mt classes. The best deal in terms of total cost is to rent the suites that have no cooking facilies and thus include a meal plan in the rent. Since I already paid for the meals I have the strong urge to make sure I don't miss any meals. Parking at the university costs as much as rent (yes it is outragiously high) so I buy a month pass for the bus system. It is so much bother and time to go anywhere that I stay on campus and miss events I am interested in more often then not. Cheap transportation has created the urban sprawl but I think it is also connected with our source of food too. Making food at home is thus likely to be the biggest step in living a greener lifestyle. I have seen two programs lately that claim to sell information on a miracle diet that can cure diseases and extend lifespan. During both infomercial programs, they mentioned that the salad is to be the most important part of your meal. By that reasoning, we should be eating greenhouse "greens" for our health and also to be "green".