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Blind pinnipeds, conservation and other things

I had a very productive, if mellow, week last week. Inspired by setting up my new desk, Tuesday evening I hopped on Caltrain and met MJ for a trip to Ikea to look at some office furniture. We didn’t find anything particularly inspiring but it did help us refine our search some and we ended up ordering a bookcase system that we’ll be able to put the computers on. Wednesday evening I headed out to Noisebridge for their Linux night where I had a great chat with some of the attendees and meet up with another Partimus board member to get a signature for some banking documents.

On Saturday we got up bright and early to drop off Caligula at the vet for his abdominal ultrasound to try to track down the source of his mild hyperglobulinemia. While he was at the vet we headed across the bay to Emeryville to visit West Elm and EQ3 for more furniture browsing. We didn’t come home with anything but have some pretty good plans now. We picked up Caligula a little after 4PM. The good news is that they didn’t find anything that would be causing the high protein levels, no tumors or blockages, all his organs look good! We got a referral to a specialist at a nearby hospital if we want to look further for the cause. The vet seemed to imply that the major, common causes of this symptom have been ruled out so it’s up to us whether we want to put him through more vet visits and tests or if we just want to bring him back in a few months to see if the levels have dropped on their own.

Sunday was the San Francisco Pride parade which I caught about a half hour of around 10:30AM. It’s always quite the event for the city but I’ve had other plans during the weekend two years in a row! Perhaps next year I’ll make better plans to enjoy more of the awesome festivities.

After that I hopped on MUNI to meet up with Jessica Ledbetter and James Tatum at the Beach Chalet for brunch. From there we all headed over to the San Francisco Zoo!

In spite of going to the zoo pretty often, the frequent changes (special exhibits! new exhibits! baby animals!) make going every other month a treat. This visit did not disappoint.

One of my favorite animals at the zoo (of which there are many) is Orkney, the 42 year old grey seal that has been living at the zoo since 1970 when he was just a year old. He’s “mostly blind” and was my first blind pinniped of the day – and it was the first time I’d ever seen him outside of his pool!

I also swung by to see the baby anteater, who has grown to be quite large but still rides around on the back of its mother. For once I got to see them outside!

It was then over to the obligatory 3:30 penguin feeding (feeding video, waddling video). Then it was over to the zoo’s newest exhibit for Henry and Silent Knight! These were my second and third blind pinnipeds of the day. Henry is a 2 year old sea lion who was found starving on a beach, they don’t believe he was born blind but don’t know the cause (Henry’s rescue story sign) and Silent Knight is an adult sea lion who was rescued after a gunshot wound to the head which left him permanently blind (Silent Knight’s rescue story sign). I’ve been tracking the story of these two guys since MJ sent me a link about Silent Knight several months back when he was recovering at The Marine Mammal Center, and I was really excited to learn that they’d have a permanent home at my favorite zoo! I was very happy to finally see them, lounging in the sun in their new home. Did I mention the sun? It was a gorgeous day, a bit too nice – I ended up with a sunburn on my face, oops!

We also visited their new Tarantulas: Alive and Up Close exhibit which will be open through Labor Day. They had over a dozen tarantulas on display, very cool.

More zoo photos from Sunday in a flickr set here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157626939167459/

Yesterday evening I took the opportunity of tickets from my boss to attend a Long Now seminar on Conservation in the Real World by Peter Kareiva, chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy. It’s pretty obvious that I love animals and nature, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve grown increasingly unimpressed with the more extreme environmentalists for their severe lack of compassion to their fellow humans. Kareiva’s talk really spoke to this concern, and expanded upon how we can preserve and protect nature while making reasonable concessions for the human element. The Nature Conservancy now has programs where they work with corporations to make an positive environmental difference, works with agriculturists to satisfy the food needs of a growing population while managing the environmental impact (People and Conservation details here) and now hosts programs where urban youth, largely minorities, are exposed to a work program where they are exposed to nature and help with projects across the country (details about the LEAF program here). The Nature Conservancy rocks. A summary of the talk by host Stewart Brand here.

On my walk home I took pictures of cable and street cars and was reminded by the whole evening how much I love San Francisco.

Finally, I finished reading Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun recently, as one of my several books I bought as epub/pdf from O’Reilly but never read until I had my Nook. One of the things he mentions in it is to get some kind of presentation remote. I’d never really thought much about this, perfectly happy to hide behind the lectern during my talks, but his reasons were good ones (no fiddling with keyboards and mice/accidentally hitting the wrong button, and roaming during a talk can be good if you don’t have to run back to your computer every time you want to change a slide). I asked on Twitter for a good remote that works with Ubuntu took the advice of Rick H of Lococast who said he had a Keyspan by Tripp Lite PR-EZ1 Easy Presenter Presentation Remote Wireless w/ Laser and loves it. I bought it that day and it arrived last week, I finally got around to testing it the other day. The result? I love it too. All I did was plug it in to the USB port of my mini9 and every button worked flawlessly out of the box. I am very pleased. Looking forward to practicing my Fosscon keynote with it!

The rest of my week is shaping up to be another project-full one, which is great because my todo list remains long and I need the time to catch up. MJ and I are celebrating our second anniversary this weekend by running off to an undisclosed location through Monday. Well, it’s undisclosed to me, he knows where we are going, all I know is that we’re not taking a plane to get there. Hooray for surprise romantic weekend getaways! I’m so excited!


  • Scott Berkun

    Thanks for the mention.

    My favorite feature of the one I recommended is it has a timer. You set it for 30 minutes and it vibrates at 25, 30, and 35 minutes, letting you know, without anyone knowing how you know, exactly how much time you have left.

    All of the other features are nearly the same on every other model of these things, other than the form factor and feel of the device itself.

  • pleia2

    Thanks for commenting!

    The timer certainly was a compelling feature, I may regret not getting it. The size of the remote is what really put me off to that one though so I figured I’d start small.

  • Matti

    The story of the blind pinnipeds is incredibly touching.

    I knew of The Nature Conservancy only as Terracycle’s default charity. I was a little wary, but reading this makes me want to donate more than my teeny check for accumulated energy bar wrappers. Mark is a fan of the Long Now foundation, and I imagine we’ll be making a pilgrimage to Texas to see the 10,000 clock as soon as there’s anything for tourists to see (assuming that happens in our lifetimes!).

    Finally, glad to hear you also buy epubs/PDFs from O’Reilly. I recently paid them $20 for an epub of Time Management for System Administrators, versus $10 for the Kindle version from Amazon, and felt a bit silly. But not dealing with DRM is really nice.

    Happy second anniversary!

  • pleia2

    Yeah, I’ve been watching the progress of the 10,000 year clock some, should be interesting once there is something more to see :)

    O’Reilly frequently has specials where they cut the price of their ebooks pretty significantly so I often pick them up then. I also had a Safari subscription for a while which allowed me to download some books once I saved up enough of the tokens, which were given monthly (I think this is how I got my copy of Time Management for System Administrators :)).


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