Archive for the ‘Wondering’ Category

Things you may have wondered about. (#5 in a series)

Saturday, September 17th, 2016

Somebody asked me this question this morning, and I thought the answer was interesting enough to make for a post in this department:

What was the name of Pavlov’s dog?

Turns out “Pavlov’s dog” is actually sort of a misnomer: good old Ivan had a bunch of dogs. I’ve seen 37 in one source, and 40 in another.

But did they have names? Yes.

Eleven years ago, I began a scientific mission with a trip to Russia, to find the names of Pavlov’s dogs. My intention was to name Drosophila memory mutants after the dogs.

This is a pretty cool article that I commend to your attention (especially for the photo of the author wearing Ivan’s old top hot).

The Quora article (with appropriate citations) lists the names of all forty known dogs, Just in case you’re looking for a good name for your new puppy,

Speaking of animal behavior, I’ve been wanting to link to this, and it seems like here is a good place for it. There once was a scientist named John Bumpass Calhoun, whp specialized in studying the behavior of rats and mice.

By 1954, he was working under the auspices of the National Institute of Mental Health, which gave him whole rooms to build his mousetopias. Like a rodent real estate developer, he incorporated ever-better amenities: climbable walls, food hoppers that could serve two dozen mice at once, lodging he described as “walk-up one-room apartments.”

His ultimate experiment, Universe 25, began in 1968 with eight mice.

The mice themselves were bright and healthy, hand-picked from the institute’s breeding stock. They were given the run of the place, which had everything they might need: food, water, climate control, hundreds of nesting boxes to choose from, and a lush floor of shredded paper and ground corn cob.

The population grew to 620 in about a year.

Then, as always, things took a turn. Such rapid growth put too much pressure on the mouse way of life. As new generations reached adulthood, many couldn’t find mates, or places in the social order—the mouse equivalent of a spouse and a job. Spinster females retreated to high-up nesting boxes, where they lived alone, far from the family neighborhoods. Washed-up males gathered in the center of the Universe, near the food, where they fretted, languished, and attacked each other. Meanwhile, overextended mouse moms and dads began moving nests constantly to avoid their unsavory neighbors. They also took their stress out on their babies, kicking them out of the nest too early, or even losing them during moves.

The last mouse was born in May of 1970.

And by the way, there’s also a literary tie to this story, but you’ll have to click through for that; I won’t spoil it here.

We’ve got questions.

Monday, February 24th, 2014

I was going to leave this as a comment on Lawrence’s blog, but then I thought it’d be more fun here.

Sadly, it turns out that the gold toilet exists, but it didn’t belong to Yanukovych. Here’s another example, just to motivate discussion. Anyway, questions:

1. Why a gold toilet? I admit, I’m not exactly the dictator type, or even the guy with more money than sense type. But I’m thinking, if I have that much money, I just don’t see the utility of a gold toilet. I’d rather have one of those fancy Japanese toilets, though I’d think about disabling Bluetooth on it first.

2. Where do you go to get a gold toilet? Is this something that’s commonly stocked in plumbing supply stores in Kiev? I’m guessing this is a special order item, but who do you order it from? I didn’t turn up any on Amazon. Do you perhaps get a goldsmith to make one for you? And do you trust your plumbing to a goldsmith, rather than experts? Like an actual plumber and a company that specializes in making toilets? This seems to me to be another argument for going Japanese with your high-end plumbing.

3. How do you clean a gold toilet? Do conventional bowl cleaners attack the gold? Can you put those cleaning tablets in the tank? If you have a gold toilet, you’re probably not using a bowl brush you bought at the Dollar Tree, so where do you get a matching brush and other accessories? Perhaps you commission those with the toilet, so you get everything from the same source.

But all of this seems like a huge pain in the butt, frankly. Even if you are a dictator and have people to manage these things for you.

Random notes: September 24, 2013.

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Paul Bergrin is going to spend the rest of his life in prison with no possibility of parole. Unless his conviction is overturned, or his sentence is reduced on appeal. (Previously on WCD.)

According to the HouChron and Nielsen, nobody in the Houston area watched the Astros game against Cleveland on Sunday. (Of course, that game was on opposite the Texans game, the Astros are getting closer to 110 losses this season, and there’s some margin for error in Nielsen’s calculations.)

While I was digging out the Bergrin posts, I stumbled across this old post about Hot Wheels, Legos, and imaginative play. The discussion of Legos, and their emphasis on pre-packaged sets tied to pop culture events, reminded me of something I saw over the weekend: LEGO Lone Ranger sets. I kind of like the Constitution Train Chase but I don’t like it $100 worth (or $81.40 worth, for that matter): I look forward to seeing these sets being blown out at Wal-Mart for $10 or less. (Heck, I might even go $20 for the train.)

And even more things I did not know….

Friday, August 17th, 2012

An office discussion led to the misguided The Legend of the Lone Ranger movie from 1981. (Not to be confused with the misguided Lone Ranger movie currently in production.)

You remember that one, don’t you? The one where the Wrather Company went after Clayton Moore for making public appearances in a mask? The one starring Klinton Spilsbury?

I’m sure you haven’t been wondering, “Hey, what ever happened to Klinton Spilsbury?” But: what ever happened to Klinton Spilsbury?

Answer: he’s never worked again.

Kind of makes me go “Wow”. I mean, surely he could have gotten a part in some direct to video/DVD piece of crap? Or if they were really desperate, a part in a SyFy channel movie? “Anaconda 5: Anaconda vs. Bigfoot”?

Is it just me…

Friday, August 17th, 2012

…or does P90X sound more like a product of FN (probably a bullpup chambered in .250-3000) or a Volvo sport-utility vehicle than an exercise program?

Things you may have wondered about. (#4 in a series)

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

We haven’t had one of these in a while, and this is a pretty good one.

What ever happened to Bob Dylan’s guitar?

Specifically, what ever happened to the 1964 Fender Stratocaster that Dylan played at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965? You know, the one that prompted noted “folk icon” Pete Seegar to try to unplug Dylan?

The PBS “History Detectives” say they’ve found the guitar, which has been stored in some woman’s attic for 50 years.

Dylan’s attorney says he still has the guitar.

Things you may have wondered about. (#3 in a series)

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

What do deep-fried Fruity Pebbles look like?

The HouChron has the answer, in yet another go around of the rodeo food (warning! Slideshow!) slideshow (warning! Slideshow!). The Fruity Pebbles photos are at the very start.

You may also have wondered what kind of person comes up with these ideas. The HouChron also has the answer at that same link, in the form of an interview with Ken Hoffman.

Not answered: how do they taste?

Things you may have wondered about. (#2 in a series)

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

What ever happened to Jacqueline Kennedy’s pink suit and matching pillbox hat?

The pink suit, blood-stained and perfectly preserved in a vault in Maryland, is banned from public display for 100 years.

And the hat? Sadly, it did not wind up on top of a cantaloupe honeydew melon in an episode of Penn and Teller’s “Bullshit”. Indeed, nobody knows for sure where the hat is…

The pillbox hat — removed at Parkland Hospital while Mrs. Kennedy waited for doctors to confirm what she already knew — is lost, last known to be in the hands of her personal secretary, who won’t discuss its whereabouts.


Things you may have wondered about. (#1 in a series)

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

What ever happened to the very first commercial 747, Pan Am’s Juan T. Trippe? (Note the phrasing; the actual first 747 was only used for test flights, and is now in the Museum of Flight.)

The LAT has the answer; it became a (now closed) restaurant in South Korea. The couple who bought the plane paid $1 million for it, and “$100,000 plus” to have it dismantled and shipped; the LAT does not give a cost figure for the reassembly.

The LAT also does not tell us what kind of food the restaurant served; rumors that it was Seoul food are unconfirmed.

The airliner-restaurant trend quickly crashed. Several other similar restaurants shut down, and the couple found it difficult to make ends meet — it took a barrel of fuel oil every two days to heat the big plane. The location was also unfortunate because it is difficult to reach from a nearby freeway.

Nice to know that people in other countries make the same mistakes opening restaurants as people in the U.S.