[Most Recent Entries]
Below are 20 journal entries, after skipping by the 20 most recent ones recorded in
[ << Previous 20 -- Next 20 >> ]
[ << Previous 20 -- Next 20 >> ]
|Saturday, September 23rd, 2017|
|UAE / ОАЭ
Last July we spent a day and a half in the Emirates. Here
are a few photos.
В июле мы провели полтора дня в Эмиратах. Тут
|Sunday, September 3rd, 2017|
|Monday, August 28th, 2017|
Вопрос российским орнитологам (профи и любителям): кто-нибудь был в Якутии в последнее время? Нет ли у вас там знакомых по птичкам? Спасибо.
|Sunday, August 20th, 2017|
|Wednesday, August 16th, 2017|
|Tuesday, August 15th, 2017|
|Thursday, August 10th, 2017|
Очень жаль, что ЖЖ тихо накрывается, потому что тут до сих пор осталось несколько человек, замечательно пишущих. Лучше всех пишет, конечно, Русалочка
- почитайте ее постики про наше маленькое путешествие по Африке :-)
|Monday, July 17th, 2017|
Northern gannets in force 10 wind: 1
Северные олуши на десятибалльном ветру.
Cape St. Mary's, Newfoundland.
|Sunday, July 16th, 2017|
|Friday, July 14th, 2017|
Terrestrial flatworm, Vermont Wildlife Reserve, St. Vincent. Note the ant's behavior: perhaps the worm produces some ant repellent?
Наземный плоский червь, Сент-Винсент. Обратите внимание на поведение муравья: может быть, червь выделяет какой-то репеллент?https://youtu.be/dEd2-8QFysM
|Thursday, July 13th, 2017|
|Monday, July 10th, 2017|
Today is my last day (at least for now) in North America; it is also twenty years to a day since I first came here as a political refugee. I arrived in classical immigrant style, speaking funny pseudo-British English, carrying self-made camping gear in a camo backpack and clutching $120 in my pocket.
I had a wonderful time here. Almost everybody was unbelievably kind and friendly, even the rural folks who were supposed to be close-minded and xenophobic. I made many great friends; among them are some brilliant scientists and some people who are not scientists but are nonetheless brilliant in their own ways. I lived at twenty addresses in seven states, and travelled in all states and Canadian provinces except, unfortunately, Nunavut – this remains a thorn in my side. I immensely enjoyed America’s unrivaled forests and deserts, its oceans, mountains, grasslands, rivers and tundras, its pueblos, towns, and sometimes even cities. I saw all mammals and birds of the continent and lots of other fascinating creatures. I worked at twelve jobs, got a Ph.D., made a few scientific discoveries, published three books, and snatched a trophy wife; she also has a Ph.D. and is talented in so many ways that I don’t even know where to start. One particularly adventure-filled day she gave birth to our daughter, and that was the best thing to ever happen to us.
Of course, sometimes the USA was driving me mad – as any country would if you lived there long enough. There were little things like the stupid cult of Astroturf-like lawns and big things like the gradual sinking into Fascist oligarchy. After twenty years I still convert all American measurements to metric ones in my head. But there were a lot more things I know I’ll miss, from the ridiculously effortless lifestyle of Amazon Prime subscriber to the ability to quickly and easily drive almost anywhere between Deadhorse, Alaska and Pene Chiquito, Panama. I’ll miss those place names, too. And I’ll miss the house we bought a year before leaving, “the little grey house” as our daughter calls it, with deer, woodchucks, chipmunks, grosbeaks, salamanders and other wildlife living in our backyard.
Well, life shouldn’t be too easy, or it turns you into a vegetable. I think it’s healthy for anyone, but particularly for a naturalist, to change continents once in a while. Emigration is the most intense kind of travel. New experiences, new challenges help you stay young, sharp and flexible. It’s good to be moving again. It would be even better if it didn’t feel like I’m escaping the same shit for the second time.
Some people say that the last two decades were the Golden Age, the pinnacle of American civilization, and things can only go downhill from there. I hope it’s not so. True, there are systemic issues and catastrophic tendencies, but in the 21st century we are supposed to solve problems rather than whine and pray to imaginary friends. I wish this beautiful country to overcome all evil and remain as great as it mostly has been during those twenty years. Great in the matters that count: the rights and freedoms of its people, the decent life for all, the carefully and lovingly protected environment, the noble and credible standing in the world, the breathtaking innovation in science and technology.
Farewell, my home.
|Thursday, July 6th, 2017|
|Alt-world / другой глобус
I often have dreams that involve travel. And many years ago I realized that the world where I travel in those dreams has a consistent geography different from that of the real world. It is difficult to remember when I am awake, but always feels familiar when I am there. Gradually I managed to translate my dreamtime knowledge into daytime memory, and finally mapped that dreamworld on paper. Here it is.
Я часто вижу сны про путешествия. И уже давно заметил, что география мира, по которому я путешествую в снах, постоянна и не совпадает с миром реальным. Ее трудно вспомнить, когда проснешься, но в снах она мне всегда вполне знакома. Постепенно мне удалось перевести «ночную» память в «дневную», а теперь я наконец нарисовал карту моего «мира снов». Вот она.
|Wednesday, June 28th, 2017|
|Yongsters / молодняк
Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes
) and a white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus
), Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey.
Лисята и мышонок.
I am reading the diary of A. J. Mounteney Jephson from Stanley's 1887-9 Emin Pasha relief expedition (if you don't know this fascinating story, look it up). The expedition used waterproof tents; each housed up to ten people and could be easily carried by one porter. At the end of the grueling 3-year ordeal, the tents were stored in London. In 1953 (64 years later) they were still waterproof and in such excellent condition that they were successfully used for the first ascend of Mt. Everest. My new, expensive modern tent recently fell apart after two years of storage.
|Tuesday, June 27th, 2017|
I am reading a book about animal languages by Zhanna Reznikova. She did some very clever experiments with red wood ants where scouts had to find food in a bifurcating labyrinth, return to the nest, and tell their personal teams of foragers what sequence of turns to use to get straight to the food. So the scout had to transmit (through antennal contact, presumably) a sequence of instructions like “go left, then right, left, left, right”. Zhanna and her colleagues measured the time it took the scout to instruct the foragers. And what they found was that the scouts could recognize patterns and somehow compress information: telling a forager to go “LLLLLL” took less time than telling to go “LRLRLR”, and that took less time than telling to go “LRLLRL”. Apparently, the scouts could say something like “take six left turns”, or “go left, then right, repeat three times”, or may be “go left, then alternate all the way”. Some people I know can’t do that, even though their brain weighs more than an average ant colony.
The second experiment, with a labyrinth shaped like a hair comb with the entrance at one end, was even more interesting. Larger numbers took longer to transmit, so ants needed more time to say “go to branch 15” than to say “go to branch 4”. But if food was placed on two particular branches more often than on others, scouts soon came up with “code names” for these two branches, and used these two branches as landmarks in their instructions if the food was placed on a branch adjacent to a “named” one. So if, for example, branch 20 was frequently used to place food, ants would name it something like “good branch A”, and when food was on branch 18, than instead of saying “go to 18” the scouts would say something like “go to A-2”. They counted the number of branches on their way home from the food source, and they knew without checking that if food was on branch 18, it also meant branch A-2.That allowed them to cut communication time, and they expected the foragers to also be able to subtract 2 from 20 and go straight to branch 18. Now, try to remember how long it took you to learn that in school.