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Noticing the year, as a hobby, has reached the overwhelming stage. There are so many birds and plants and bugs suddenly appearing that one can't catalogue them all without making it their primary diversion. For my part, I just saw an eastern kingbird--a decidedly urban species hereabouts that deserves a More Urban Species entry, along with the turkey vulture, brown-headed cowbird, and whatever else.

While visiting my dad in Connecticut, I noticed that spring there--80 miles inland or so--was a good 10 days or so ahead of Boston. Cherry trees had long given up blooming, and strawberry flowers lined the paths. We saw eastern phoebes, tree swallows, and innumerable catbirds. Alexis and I both came back from our weekends (she was in Vermont) intoxicated by the beauty of New England in May. The hangover that hits in November and doesn't let go until late April is always on our minds, however.

Among the many signs of spring are the appearances of spiders, both in and out of doors. I've photographed a few, and seen a couple on friends' journals. I'm amazed at the level of revulsion that spiders can inspire. In North America or Europe, the chances of being injured by a spider are vanishingly small--you are far more likely to drown in a bucket than to receive a spider bite requiring medical attention. (medical statistic made up but more or less accurate) But risk of injury isn't what leads to phobias, otherwise one in ten people would have a justified fear of cars. No there's something mysterious about spiders that scares people, and I'm trying to figure it out.

I realized recently that the orientation and shape of the legs seems to be an important factor. From my research, glancing at wikipedia, I see that insects (which gross some people out, but don't cause fits the way spiders do) have five segments in each leg, while spiders have seven. This results in a leg that tends to curve around and look grasping for lack of a better word. I dunno. I'm just trying to figure out this phobia--which is so pervasive that two of my coworkers, a vet and vet tech, both have it. Perhaps not coincidentally, centipede legs also have seven segments.

In other spider news, one of my livejournal friends in Australia, where it is autumn, just posted that a redback spider came in through his bathroom window. This relative of the black widow can pack a punch, but my friend was delighted to have an interesting pet come his way.

On a more mundane, not urban wildlife related subject, Alexis and I are trying to decide between a ps3 and an xbox 360. There are basically two videogame series we care about: grand theft auto and katamari. GTA4 is available for both systems. The new Katamari is NOT available for ps3, and it apparently never will be. The ps3 doubles as a bluray player, which appeals to the gadget geek in me, not to mention the film critic. However it also costs a bit more. I had some irrational brand loyalty--mostly stemming from the thought that I could play my old ps2 games on the ps3--but that is fading. Mainly this is because I realized that ps2s are pieces of utter shit, and we've bought 3 of them in five years. The most recent one I got on eBay for relatively cheap; it came with a warning that it takes a while for it to read dvd games (ps1 games are cd based, while most ps2 games are dvd based), instead I found that it doesn't play them at all. Apparently there's a voltage issue, where the machine uses two different voltage settings to spin each kind of disc at different speeds, and this goes awry easily. Whatever, I guess we'll get a stupid xbox. It'll stimulate the economy, according to the brilliant minds in the Bush administration.

Or maybe I should just buy this.

And now for something completely different: Why does the Indian restaurant near my work serve BEEF? That's like a Kosher deli selling pork chops. Looking into it a bit, I find my suspicions confirmed; it's an Indian/Pakistani restaurant. I like their food (except their saag, it's flavorless), and I really look forward to when we have group zoo vet lunch there, but it's way overrated and way overpriced. Eleven dollars for a lunch buffet?

Sorry for the continuing ugly snapshots. I'm thinking of transitioning out of 3 o'clock snapshots into something more photojournally, as befits the cellphone pics. We'll see. Between the business and the intermittently crushing depression, I haven't been livejournaling as much as I like. I'll get some health insurance, maybe a shrink, then we'll see about a new blog project.

Mar. 18th, 2004

I was disappointed, this morning, when they announced that my commuter train was boarding. I was having so much fun watching the pigeons! One waits for the trains indoors, on one of the very few benches, or more often, standing near the fast food kiosks. Double automatic sliding doors lead to the platforms. When a train arrives, the flood of passengers means that the door stay open for several minutes.

Enterprising pigeons fly in over the crowds to hunt for crumbs in the station. I crouched to offer crumbs of my breakfast sandwich, and the birds recognized the posture. Soon, one young female pigeon was taking pieces from my fingertips. I kept my actions discreet not wishing to draw the ire of those whose job it is to keep the floor clean.

After I stopped, another passenger-in-waiting, a woman also with a standing breakfast, began dropping crumbs. Her more brazen feeding attracted a plump, if drab male bird. He chased off competitors and deftly danced beneath the feet of the crowds of commuters. He even took the opportunity to engage in some courting behavior: strutting, puffing, cooing. A group of five pigeons in total milled about.

A young lady who I'll diagnose with aviphobia was seated on the nearest bench, reading. When a pigeon got near she shot out her foot, and a disgusted look. The birds retreated just out of kicking range, only momentarily distracted from their feeding and courting activities.

Ah, Nature!


The Urban Pantheist

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