Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I give pretty good snake massages too 

But for free,

Ada Barak's snake spa, in Talmei Elazar, northern Israel, uses California and Florida king snakes, corn snakes and milk snakes for the massages, which cost £40 ($70).

Miss Barak believes that physical contact with the reptiles can be a relaxing experience. She says that she was inspired by her belief that once people get over any initial misgivings, they find physical contact with the snakes to be stress relieving.

Miss Barak began offering the service at the Talmey El'Azar tourist attraction in 2006 and now most of her income comes from exhibiting plants at her carnivorous plant farm, which eat everything from insects to small mammals.

(via). (video).

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

McCain don't know how much he's got 

Crooks and Liars.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sarracenia purpurea 

My purple American pitcher plant is doing rather well. Unlike other American pitcher plants, S. purpurea collects rainwater in which to drown its prey. I have read that its digestion is aided by mosquito larvae and bacteria living in its pitchers. However, with no larvae and only the bacteria that came with it turned a large cricket into a translucent film on the top of the water in a short week. I first filled the single pitcher with water at the same time I fed it a cricket - a few days before the second following photo was taken.

Here it is at week 0, just planted from bare-root,

Sarracenia purpurea crown

Week 4, digesting its first cricket - it was not until it was fed that the faintly darker green veining became strikingly purple and pronounced,

purple American pitcher plant

Today, a bit shy of week 8,

American purple  pitcher plant

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Fruit fly culture experiment 

I'm growing flightless fruit flies to feed my pet plants. About a month ago I bought a culture of them from a pet store for $5.99 - I believe today I bought enough ingredients to make dozens of times more flies for about the same price. First, here is the store purchased culture.

purchased fruit fly culture

Because millions of people without in-sink disposals unwittingly make fruit fly cultures every day I figure it's rather difficult to fail in the venture. I've read that using vinegar instead of water inhibits mold growth so I threw into the blender a small apple, half a package of potato buds, half a package of baking yeast and wet it down a bit with apple cider vinegar.

diy fruit fly food

I kept the apple peels for springtail food. Or more accurately, food for springtail food. More on that tomorrow.

apple peels

After blending everything down to a cookie dough consistency, I used a root beer bottle to mash the mush more or less evenly across the bottoms of a mason jar and pickle jar. I put one in the freezer for later.


I learned a new word today, excelsior,

wood shavings (thin curly wood shavings used for packing or stuffing)

In this case, the source of my excelsior - pods of a Northern Catalpa - proved the first positive about having a nearly all year mess of the foot-long woody pods in the yard. Those woody pods are perfect excelsior material for my pet flies to find a purchase.


I shook 30-40 flies from the original culture into their new breeding grounds and locked them in with a paper towel and rubber bands.

put a lid on it

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Three carnivoes 

One's first thought about the plants in this picture isn't "They eat meat."

three carnivorous plants

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Monday, April 28, 2008


Two of my pings are in bloom and hopefully will give viable seeds. Based on its distinctive flower, I believe this first one is P. vulgaris,

Pinguicula vulgaris flower

Pinguicula vulgaris flower

It has a very long quick growing stem,

Pinguicula vulgaris blooming

I didn't see roots on this, my first ping so pulled off half the leaves in an attempt to root them aqnd planted the rest what seemed right-side-up to me. It's regenerating,

Here you can see some fruit flies I crushed until barely alive and let this P. moranensis (I think) finish them off.

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Carnivorous plant scorecard 

I intend to collect all species native to North America in the following five genera: Darlingtonia, Dionaea, Drosera, Pinguicula, and Sarracenia. Blue means I have it, purple means I've ordered it.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Carnivores: Sarracenia species and venus fly-trap 

My order of carnivorous plants came yesterday. The only one recognizable as such is the Venus fly trap,

baby venus flytrap

The rest are in the genus Sarracenia (American pitcher plants). Most carnivorous plants live in low-nutrient acidic wetlands - thus their adaptation of acquiring nutrients from insects and other small animals digested in modified leaves. The bog-like environment is simulated by creating a peat moss and sand mixture which is kept wet by standing a pot in water, reversing the intended function of the pot's drainage holes.

simulated bog

simulated bog

The pitcher plants came as rhizomes with a small strawberry-like crown.

just potted American pitcher plant

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