The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Interesting, but...ew

Did you know what goes on inside figs?

Figs are not actually fruits but a mass of inverted flowers and seeds that are pollinated by a species of tiny symbiotic wasps. The male fig flower is the only place where the female wasp can lay her eggs, at the bottom of a narrow opening in the fruit that she shimmies her way through. The baby wasps mature inside the fig into males that have sharp teeth but no wings and females ready to fly. They mate, the males chew through the special fig pollen holders and drop them down to the females, chew holes in the skin of the fig to let the females out, and then die. The females, armed with the pollen, fly off in search of new male figs to lay her eggs in. In the process some of the female wasps land on female figs that don't have the special egg receptacle but trick the female into shimmying inside. As the female wasp slides through the narrow passage in the fig her wings are ripped off (egg laying is a one-way mission) and while she is unsuccessful in laying her eggs, she successfully pollinates the female flower. The female flower then ripens into the fig that you can get at the supermarket, digesting the trapped wasp inside with specialized enzymes! For the females that managed to lay their eggs the life cycle continues with a new brood of tiny wasps ready to mate and pollinate.

Almost...there...

So, in the past week I've worked 63 hours, commuted for 6, done schoolwork for 6, and walked the dog for 3. Only, the week isn't over, because I still have my Operations final due tomorrow night. And we've got a long week at work as we slog towards our production release Saturday.

The Daily Parker might be sparse.

Beloit College makes me cry

I mentioned yesterday that I've had the most difficult time imaginable figuring out what makes people born after 1980 tick. Via reader JM, who teaches junior high school, Beloit College has released their annual Mindset List putting the Class of 2014 in context:

Most students entering college for the first time this fall—the Class of 2014—were born in 1992. For these students, Benny Hill, Sam Kinison, Sam Walton, Bert Parks and Tony Perkins have always been dead.

1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive.

...

4. Al Gore has always been animated.

...

19. They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.

Sigh.

In other news, Boston beat Toronto 5-4 in the 11th after 9 straight innings of playing like Cubs. Both teams, actually. Fortunately when both teams are playing that way the home team gets to go last and fix it. Or, as a friend of mine says, "The thing about mud-wrasslin' with a pig is you both get dirty, but the pig likes it." (That may not have anything to do with baseball but it's funny.)

Anyway, game photos later today when I'm back home.

Miss Universe

Via, of all the improbable sources, Microsoft's Raymond Chen: photos of and commentaries about the Miss Universe National Costumes entries (part 1 and part 2) that made my eyes water from laughing so hard. Sample commentary: "If [Miss Britain] really wanted to be provocative, she should have shown more skin and had her sash say 'BEEFEATER.'"

In fairness, I have to believe that the women involved felt they had no choice but to comply with the demented and sad whims of the costume designers assigned to them. I mean, it's simply not plausible that all of them could be the Carrie Prejeans of couture.

Still not dead

In fact, I'm turning...um, some number of years old in 17 days and a few minutes.

Then, I might be dead. Right now I'm just working 13-hour days. At least you have the ParkerCam.

Making the best of a bad rack

I play online Scrabble™ every day, so I've seen my fill of bad Scrabble racks. When you have four Es in your rack towards the end of the game, it almost doesn't matter what else you have.

Sometimes, though, you have four Es, a blank, a Z, and an N...and this happens, for 54 points:

Of course, there was the game where my racks looked like this for most of the game:


I'm actually batting .500 with this opponent after close to 100 games. So we're pretty evenly matched, which I think is best, as it's obvious that since we started playing we've brought each other's games up substantially.

It just goes to show: there's a lot more to life than a nice rack.

Not on my holiday list

Via Sullivan, an unfortunate product from Scotland:

AdFreak writes:

If the Old Spice guy really wants to prove his manliness, he should switch allegiances and endorse BrewDog, a Scottish craft brewery that has just released perhaps the most masculine product ever invented: a beer that contains 55 percent alcohol and comes packaged inside a taxidermied rodent. It costs £500 (about $760) per bottle and is called The End of History. PETA has yet to weigh in, but an Advocates for Animals rep calls the brew "a perverse idea" and adds: "People should learn to respect [animals] rather than using them for some stupid marketing gimmick." UPDATE: Despite the steep price tag, all 12 bottles of the beer sold out on Day 1.

Today's XKCD is unrelated to this, but still worthy of linking.

Where has all the time gone?

In the past seven calendar days[1], I have worked 40.3 hours[2], traveled 39.8 hours through four countries and six states, and, so far as I can tell, slept for about 40 hours. I am not sure what happened in the remaining few minutes, though part of it included walking Parker and part of it included staring into space dazedly. Fortunately traveling wasn't entirely wasted time, including as it did four episodes of This American Life and two complete novels.

This is all a long way of saying I apologize for the reduced velocity of The Daily Parker, and I expect to resume my usual average of 1½ posts per day in short order.

N.B.: Don't ask how I know all this. I will say only that sitting in a car, train, bus, or airplane for more than 40 hours in one week gives one a lot of time to think about irrelevant crap.

[1] Since 17:30 CDT last Sunday.

[2] Plus another 4.4 hours commuting to and from my client site.

Back in the US

The first day or so back is always hectic and exhausting. I still marvel that the 11½-hour time change from India was easier than the 9-hour change from St. Petersburg (or, come to think of it, the 8-hour change from Dubai.)

I'm still getting back into my life, so I'll end here, but for this non-sequitur: I have t oget these cookies.