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 :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First day of September

Today was too beautiful to spend in the office, so I left the back door open at home and worked on mushroom body/cerebellum schematics, Burnout Revenge on XBox, and a new blog header (as seen above). I worked on my latest Blythe custom just a bit, too; she still needs her new hair, obviously.

Monday, August 31, 2009


The weather is getting cooler and I'm starting to think about boots. I've wanted a pair of Frye boots for years, but they're expensive as hell ($200-$500 range), so I haven't been able to justify buying a pair yet. The two pairs above are the kind I want: stompy but tall and narrow around the calf, so they fit under a pair of jeans.

I like this pair of Victorian hooker-style boots, too. Can't imagine how I would wear them though (and the heels would probably destroy my arthritic feet).

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sappy song du jour

Time takes a while to break ya,
and now only fire can wake ya

Friday, August 21, 2009


Let me be the only one
To keep you from the cold,
Now the floor of heav'n is laid
Its stars of brightest glow,
They shine for you
They shine for you
They burn for all to see,
Come into these arms again
And set this spirit free.

-Annie Lennox

In my garden...

A Saddleback Moth caterpillar. This is why I don't mind letting the weeds grow; they attract some nice insects.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Beautiful Vieques

Filmed after snorkeling at Pata Prieta on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico. Narration by Davin with special guest appearance by myself at the end.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Puerto Rico so far

I'm getting a lot of work done, but still having fun. I've only made it to the beach once so far, but I should have more time for that (and some snorkeling) this weekend. Yay!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Looks like a band photo

Booth Street Kidz

Osmoderma sp.

Captured by Jade somewhere in the back yard.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I wish I could find these at the pet store

Coconut crabs. Aside from their larval stage, they're entirely land-dwelling. They can also climb trees.

Art prints

I've had these prints forever and just this week bought frames for them. "Neptune" is by Steve Thomas, who does all kinds of beautiful steampunk-y retro-future art. "Neptune" is going to go in the spare bedroom. The other two will go in the main bedroom (which I am finally going to finish painting). "The Desert" was a print I got at the Saguaro National Park in Tucson, AZ right before I moved here, and "Insect Diversity" was produced as a limited edition print for a science awareness campaign by the Entomological Foundation.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Jumping spider appreciation

Today I stumbled on this Flickr page by Opo Terser, who takes amazing macro photos of arthropods. He seems to like jumping spiders in particular, and I've included several of his pictures here. I think these little spiders are both fascinating and absolutely adorable, and yes, I know that's a little weird.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Going home

I'm off to Iowa for the week. This last two weeks has been quite an emotional rollercoaster, and I'm desperately needing some time to get my head straight, work a little, and spend time with the family. I'm especially looking forward to doing some antiquing- like my house isn't already filled with eclectic little baubles and trinkets. I can always find a spot for something new.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nighttime visitor

A huge, beautiful parasitic wasp was flying around my kitchen light last night. She was very cooperative in posing for pictures, and I let her go afterwards. I already know these wasps have huge mushroom bodies, so I didn't need to take her into the lab...

The long ovipositor is only used to lay eggs in a host, so I wasn't worried about getting stung.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


That's the name of the band, Sigh. This song has a very bittersweet feel to it, and I'm in kind of a bittersweet mood today so I've been listening to it a lot.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Photo day

Kind of a gloomy day here, but I decided to get the camera out and take some pics. Jade accompanied me as I walked around the yard, followed by an angry catbird (above).

The lilies are in bloom, I've got several varieties that seem to thrive under my ultra-low maintenance gardening style.

Must take pictures of the insects, of course.

I finally finished my custom Blythe, she now has beautiful new hair. I've named her Asenath after a character in the H.P. Lovecraft story "The Thing on the Doorstep."