Tuesday, March 15, 2005

first to fall over when the atmosphere is less than perfect

The phone remains broken, wires sticking out. It's nearly laughable. And yet, the Office Space quote applies: "It's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care." True, to a certain extent.

I heard about this on Sunday, but was distracted by my own wallowing from thinking about it until today. The only great white shark in captivity, one I'd seen in December when I drove out to Monterey on a particularly beautiful day, after over 150 days at the aquarium, chomped two soupfin sharks over the last few weeks. It confused the marine biologists involved- normally, the sharks in that particular tank are fed well enough that they do not feel the need to attack the other fish. The tank is truly something to see, as well, a million gallon massive structure. You only see the great white once every five or so minutes, because it disappears into the back depths of the tank. What's interesting about the story is not that the shark attacked, not that it reverted back to its innate nature. Well, maybe that's interesting too. But the interesting twist is the hypothesis that the soupfin sharks lost their innate nature. They may have become too comfortable in their cozy environment, forgot that they still had to have their wits about them. Observers claim the other fish and shark were wary enough to keep their distance from the great white.

In other fishy news, NPR had a piece on the EPA's new rules for reducing mercury emissions. What does coal have to do with fish? Well, not much actually, but mercury does. Mercury levels in fish are what may contribute more to children being exposed to mercury (transmitted from their mother during pregnancy- thanks for being a strict veggie, mom!). And since the fish that seem to rate highest in mercury levels are imported, there is little the EPA can do about that. And it's not clear that the coal regulations will translate to an appreciable reduction in mercury emissions. But here's to hoping.

The story about coal reminded me of how a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. When I was about eight, my parents bought a coal stove. Though they're called stoves, they're really more like something of a furnace, installed in your living room. I overheard my parents debating the purchase one evening. Pros: cheaper than oil at the time which was a big sell, would put the fireplace to better use than previously in our household. Cons: needing to store a big old pile of coal in the garage, and possible carbon monoxide poisoning. Little nerdita that I was, I ferreted out every last piece of information on carbon monoxide I could find. An odorless, colorless gas, the ultimate in intangibility, the silent killer, took whole families out at night. Yeah, that sat really well with me. Every night, sleep would make my eyelids heavy, but I'd be convinced that maybe it was the effects of the carbon monoxide. Was I panicking, or was it the carbon monoxide, slowly suffocating me? The parentals tired of this pretty quickly, and succumbed to my anxieties, buying a carbon monoxide detector. But I was convinced that didn't work. Two years later, my father got tired of shovelling coal, my mom got tired of the messy blackness of our garage, and the coal stove was retired. And I slept peacefully, much to my parent's relief.

Since the teeniacs had been visiting me, I knew about the latest changes to the SAT. I know they claim it's much harder than the hack version I took way back in the dark ages, but I will refute that to the grave. They've removed the analogy section and replaced it with a required written essay. That verbal analogy section haunted every honor roll junior's dreams. Sure, it's a letdown for one of the teeniacs, who'd spent last summer learning a new word every day so that her vocabulary would be tough enough to handle the madness of that analogy seciton. But I'm guessing it's a better test this way. I could rant about standardized tests, but they'll never be done away with, and there are better things to fume over right now.

Also, you can hear a new Postal Service single here. I don't care if crappy television shows and movies have started using their songs everywhere you turn. Just as Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah remains heartrending, the Postal Service is still a good listen.

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