Qui Ne Risque Rien, N’a Rien

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This post was first published on the 10th of August, 2012

Today was my last day as an administrative assistant, and August 20th will be my first day as a full-time student.

Today represents an end to the financial security I’ve been so lucky to have.  It represents the end of bi-monthly paychecks that actually covered the bills, “free” health insurance, and annual bonuses.  It represents the end of a familiar routine and the security that comes with a position one is adept at.  It represents the beginning of a new form of social insecurity as a “non-traditional student” on campus.  It represents fear and doubt and hope and anticipation.  It represents the possibility of a future in which I can spend my days immersed in a field that lights my shit right right up.  It represents the possibility of failure and its consequences.  It represents an adventure of exploration and discovery and stress and worry.  It represents change and growth.  It represents the person I’ve become and the person I want to be.

I think I may be in shock.

This post was published two years ago today. These past two years haven’t always been easy, and the years that follow promise to hold even greater challenges, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. At this point in my studies, I feel an odd kinship with Alice on her way to Wonderland; I’ve already experienced the panic associated with falling down the rabbit hole and, while I’ve yet to land, I’ve become somewhat comfortable with my descent.”

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Earth Science Tidbit of the Day

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Have you ever seen a squid wearing a set of novelty teeth? If not, you’re about to.

promachsulcusoral.400a

“Ahhhhhh…”

 

Meet Promachoteuthis sulcus, a deep sea squid that has been observed exactly once, after being caught by a German fishing vessel. The teeth that appear to be lining its gaping maw aren’t actually teeth. Like other squid, P. sulcus has a beak that it uses to render its prey. Unlike other squid, P. sulcus covers its beak with a set of folded lips shaped suspiciously like human dentures.

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Earth Science Tidbit of the Day

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Think of an animal with bone-crushing jaws capable of striking faster than a pissed-off cobra.

Anyone thinking of a giant, flat, soft-shelled turtle that spends the vast majority (up to 95%) of its life buried in soft aquatic muck with only its snoutish nose revealed? Anyone? Well, good on you if you were, because the frog-faced softshell turtle fits the badass bill, beating out the cobra as one of the fastest striking animals on the planet.

Frog-faced-softshell-turtle-front-view

“Come closer and call me “frog-faced”. I dare ya’.”

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Earth Science Tidbit of the Day

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Frost wedging is the proverbial red-headed stepchild of the erosion family. Not nearly as likely to create the breathtaking sculptures attributed to its brethren wind and water erosion, frost wedging isn’t typically considered a boon to the tourism industry – with at least one notable exception: Split Apple Rock in New Zealand. While local legend credits the splitting of this massive boulder to a dispute between gods, this much photographed feature is most likely the result of frost wedging; the repeated intrusion of water into cracks within rock that exerts outward pressure as the water expands upon freezing.

Split Apple Rock (View from Seakayak)

Part of frost wedging’s “Angst in Tranquility” series

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Earth Science Tidbit of the Day

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How’s a male giraffe to know if a nearby female might be willing to accept his sexual advances? Why, he nudges her butt until she pees and takes a little taste, of course. The technical term for this is the “Flehmen sequence”, and it’s how the male giraffe determines whether or not the female is in heat. The non-technical term is “golden shower cocktail”, and it’s how the male giraffe grosses me out.

That's right, Mr. Giraffe. I'm judging you.

That’s right, Mr. Giraffe. I’m judging you.

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Earth Science Tidbit of the Day

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A single gene known as ectodysplasin A (EDA) is responsible for the development of all skin accessory organs – finger/toenails, hair, teeth, and various glands. Mutations in this gene results in hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia, a disorder which affects some 1 in 17,000 individuals worldwide. Actor Michael Berryman is arguably the most famous person with the genetic disorder, which left him without sweat glands, hair, teeth, and all but two fingernails.

Michael Berryman

Click pic for Wiki.

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Earth Science Tidbit of the Day

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The largest dinosaur known to man was Argentinosaurus huinculensis, which is thought to have weighed in at around 90 tonnes, about as much as 15 T. rex , but this is nothing compared to the largest animal known to man. The blue whale nearly doubles that tonnage. In fact, it’s so damn huge it could fit the entire 90 tonnes of Argentinosaurus in its mouth when fully extended. All at once. Like… the whole damn dinosaur.

BlueWhale

Click the pic for more comparisons.

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Earth Science Tidbit of the Day

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Male dromedary camels come equipped with a lady lure called the dulla, a specialized throat organ. When a male spots a female he fancies, or a male he wants to challenge, he inflates this membranous sack, extends it from his mouth coated in frothy saliva, and… gargles. Mmmm… sexy.

Inflated camel dulla. If you were a camel, this would be porn.

If you were a camel, this would be porn.

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Earth Science Tidbit of the Day

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Female hyenas get so pumped up on testosterone during mating season that they actually develop a pseudo-penis. While interestingly kinky in theory, reality holds that this pseudo-penis serve as poorly constructed birth canal. So poorly constructed, in fact, that some 60% of the offspring born to first-time hyena mothers suffocate inside the fleshy contraption.

“I changed my mind, back off George.”

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Earth Science Tidbit of the Day

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Eating prey larger than your head would typically result in suffocation. Snakes have adapted their way around this dilemma by evolving windpipes which are capable of being extracted from the interior nasal passage and extended beyond the bulk of whatever they’ve stuffed in their gaping maw.

Eating and breathing are better when accomplished together.

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