Friday, November 27, 2009

The zydrate comes in a little glass vial...

From a great movie I saw this holiday, Repo: The Genetic Opera. The actual clips on YouTube are embedding disabled, unfortunately, but this is still one of the best songs:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another semester coming to a close

Busy busy, in a good way. There have been cupcakes... 15 minutes...

...more adventures with rheumatoid arthritis...

...lots of pages filled in the journal...

...hours spent blowing up aliens with the boy...

...friendly visitors just begging to become Farris kitty #3...

...and everchanging pink hair! My mom thinks I'm trying to become a Blythe doll...

I suppose I can see the resemblance...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Kunstkamera house

A kunstkamera is a museum of "natural and human curiosities and rarities." I visited the Kunstkamera of Peter the Great when I visited St. Petersburg, Russia a few years ago, and I've seen examples of homes decorated in this style in my web browsings. No, my living room isn't full of mutant fetuses, but I do have a lot of biological and cultural ephemera that gives the feel of a kunstkamera.

So like any good museum, I've been working on my displays. Above is a new "exhibit" of interesting old photos that I've found at antique stores, and a cool birdcage from my parents' house (I think it did actually house a bird when my mom was a child).

This is a nook in the living room containing various artifacts.

Finally, my obsession with putting arthropods in boxes continues. I finally found a home for the giant spider that one of my coworkers gave to me a couple of months ago.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall has been just fine

Busy all over, but I'm enjoying it.

Finished another Blythe doll, too.

Friday, September 11, 2009

In my garden, again

A mantis fly, neither a mantis nor a fly, but more closely related to green lacewings. I love my crazy garden; if the weather is nice tomorrow, I'll take some pics of all of the insects that are enjoying the goldenrod right now.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ernst Haeckel's house

During my recent trip to Jena, Germany, I saw an after-dinner talk by Olaf Breidbach that was held at Ernst Haeckel's old house. Above is a portrait of old Ernst himself.

His history is pretty checkered, especially as concerns his interpretations of evolution and developmental biology, but he did some nice natural history work that he documented with beautiful (if somewhat embellished) drawings.

We now know that one of his most famous ideas about evolutionary developmental biology, that "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny", is not generally the case. However, there are some instances where the development of a structure within an animal does seem to pass through an intermediate stage that is more reminiscent of more basal species. In paper wasps, for example, mushroom body development begins with a structure that looks like that of most other hymenopterans (the ants, bees and wasps)(panels A, D and G above), but then reorganizes in the pupa (panels B, E, H) into a morphology that is unique to the higher paper wasps (C, F, I) (Farris, Abrams and Strausfeld, 2004). So in this rather unusual instance, ontogeny (development) does recapitulate phylogeny (the evolutionary history of the insect, in which wasps with these unique mushroom bodies arose from wasps with more typical hymenopteran mushroom bodies).

The talk was given in the dining room, which had this beautiful painting of one of Haeckel's cnidarians around the chandelier...

...and ended with this nice picture of Ernst's brain. Maybe someday people will be showing pictures of my brain in their talks, too...

This made me laugh

Thanks Dad :)