All posts by Lone Grey Squirrel

I am a scientist who enjoy the arts; a socialist who wishes to be rich; a food enthusiast who wishes to be skinny and a human who loves squirrels. Just a nutter trying to make sense of the world.

Fame, Fortune, Happiness


Did you ever play that old board game, “Careers”?

This game was devised by a sociologist, James Cooke Brown, and was first made and sold by Parker Brothers in 1955.  At the start of the game, each player decides and writes down his victory target which consists of collect points for fame, fortune or happiness.   Assuming at least 100 points (the original game used 60),  a capitalist player may choose a victory formula of say “fame=15; fortune= 70; happiness= 15”.  A narcissistic player may choose “fame= 60; fortune= 30; happiness= 10” but the player with the inner hippie might want “fame= 15; fortune= 5; happiness= 80”.  They then roll the dice and make their way around the game track, making career and life choices that help them reach their winning formula.  Some may want to choose high earning jobs, others an education and still others aspire to be beach bums – whatever works for them.

If we were to just take a moment to reflect on this concept, what might we say was the winning formula that we have actually chosen for our real lives?  What has been our combination of the three?  Which one has had our emphasis and which one have we allowed to starve in the darkness?

How does one decide?  Won’t it be great if I could be rich, famous and happy?  Even Linus knows what I mean….

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If I am honest, I think I have always wanted a life formula of Fame= 20; Fortune= 30; Happiness= 50.

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Did you achieve your target or has happiness given way to fortune or has fame (like winning the Nobel Prize for Science) been elusive?

What was your formula for success and how have you fared? Curious squirrels want to know.

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Watch Out! Oops! Too Late.


In the last month, we have had severe weather events in the U.S., the Caribbean, South Asia, Europe and Africa.  These include the devastating hurricanes of Harvey and Irma; the massive monsoon floods in Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India; and the massive landslide in Sierra Leone.  The death toll has climbed into the thousands,while millions have been displaced and have suffered loss of homes, possessions and livelihoods.

My heart is sorrowful for such great loss and suffering and yet with much sadness, I am not at all surprised by it all.  In fact, I totally expect to see this happen with increasing frequency.  Folks, in all seriousness, it is too late to still be debating about climate change.  It’s effects and it’s impacts which have long been predicted and expected by scientists are already evident in the present.

The flooding experienced by Houston due to Harvey was said to be a 500 year event.  That is to say that based on historical data, statisticians and hydrologists expect that a flood of such level and size would only occur on average once in 500 years.  But in fact, Houston has had two other massive floods making it three such 500 year events in the last three years.  The likelihood of such a string of floods would be once in 250 million years.  While the statistic estimation may be flawed, it cannot be denied that such an event would be expected to be extremely, extremely, extremely rare.  However, climate change models have predicted that what might once have been a 500 year event may now occur as frequently as once every 20 years.

The insurance industry has certainly taken notice as they have been struggling to cope with insurance claims from the increasingly frequent and increasingly costly extreme weather events.  Here are some graphs to illustrate the point.

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In the graph above, we can see that the number of climate related disasters worldwide has increased substantially.   Since 2000, such events have occurred about 14 times more frequently than they did in 1950.  Economic damage in 1950 was negligible but in 2012 peaked at about 370 billion USD.

 

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This second graph shows the number of extreme weather events that have inflicted more than 1 billion USD worth of damages according to decades.  That’s 72 such costly events in the 1990’s when compared to just 13 in the 1950’s.

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Finally, this last graph shows the top 10 costliest hurricanes to impact the USA.  9 of these 10 hurricanes have been since the year 2000.  The costliest being Katrina at USD 62.2 billion.  But wait, this table has to be updated because it did not include our most recent hurricanes of Harvey and Irma which have estimated economic costs of USD 180 billion and 100 billion respectively.

Folks…….I think we are all in deep doo-doo.  Depressed and pessimistic squirrel  signing off.

September Morn (Unburied Nuts)


Squirrels love to bury their precious nuts so as to uncover them later to enjoy at leisure. In the same way, this blog, from time to time, brings an old post back for another short period in the sun. This particular nut first saw light of day in 2007.  My goodness – that’s a decade ago!  Well, as September is always special to me for a number of reasons, here it is uncovered again……with a couple of editorial changes.

But first, let’s have some mood music by Neil Diamond who apparently also loves September morns….

It is the beginning of September and I noted a number of my blogging friends from the Northern Hemisphere are lamenting or at least marking the passing of summer. However, a few like me are ready to welcome September and the beginning of autumn. September has always been a special month for me. It seems like some of my happiest moments have been tied to this month or at least this season. In celebration of September, I offer this posting on the theme of “September Morn”. Below is a famous painting by Paul Chabas and the music is by Neil Diamond.

“September Morn” by Paul Chabas

 

Quoted from Bonnie Bull
“On a September morning in 1912, French painter Paul Chabas finished the painting he had been working on for three consecutive summers. Thus completed, it was aptly titled “Matinee de Septembre” (September Morn). As was typical of his style, the painting was of young maiden posed nude in a natural setting. This time the icy morning waters of Lake Annecy in Upper Savoy formed the natural setting and the maiden was a local peasant girl. The head, however, had been painted from the sketch of a young American girl, Julie Phillips (later Mrs. Thompson), which he had made while she and her mother were sitting in a Paris cafe. Apparently, he had found her profile to be exactly what he was looking for.

(LGS notes: Could this be a pre-Photoshop example of pasting someone’s head on to someone else’s naked body?)

The completed painting was then sent off to the Paris Salon of 1912 to be exhibited. Although the painting won Mr. Chabas the Medal of Honor, it caused no flurry of attention. Hoping to find a buyer, the artist shipped the painting overseas to an American gallery. It was here in America that the painting was destined to receive undreamed of publicity and popularity.

One day in May of 1913, displayed in the window of a Manhattan art gallery, it caught the eye of Anthony Comstock, head of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. Horrified by what he saw, he stormed into the store, flashed his badge, and roared: “There’s too little morn and too much maid. Take her out!” The gallery manager, however, refused to do so.

The ensuing controversy was given wide publicity by the press and the painting was simultaneously denounced and defended across the entire country. Meanwhile, curious crowds filled the street outside the shop straining to see the painting that caused such a stir.

Soon enterprising entrepreneurs were reproducing September Morn on everything conceivable: calendars, postcards, candy boxes, cigar bands, cigarette flannels, pennents, suspenders, bottle openers and more. Purity leagues tried to suppress it. Postcard reproductions were forbidden in the mails. The painting became the object of stock show gags and even inspired an anonymous couplet that swept the country, “Please don’t think I’m bad or bold, but where its deep it’s awful cold.”

(LGS notes: Why, this is like a meme!)

The painting went back to Paul Chabas who sold it to a Russian collector for the ruble equivalent of $10,000. After the Russian Revolution it turned up in Paris in the Gulbenkian Collection. Ultimately the painting was purchased by Philadelphia Main Liner Willaim Coxe Wright and donated to Manhattan’s Metropolitan Museum in 1957 after being refused by the Philadelphia Museum of Art because it had no significance in the twentieth century stream of art. It’s estimated market value in 1957 was $30,000. The painting still hangs in the Metropolitan Museum as an example of 20th century French works and reproductions can be purchased in the museum’s gift shop.”

Odd


Dear gentle readers, I thought I would shake things up around here and challenge you to a competition to “spot the odd one out” or “the one that is different from the rest”.  I’m sure you know how to play but be warned, it gets harder as it goes.

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Photo 1: Easy Start
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Photo 2: Life imitating art
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Photo 3: Easy Riders
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Photo 4: Did you get this right?
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Photo 5: Camouflage
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Photo 6: This one is designed to give you eye strain.
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Photo 7 : And finally……this one is just really, really ODD!

The Lone Grey Squirrel would like to thank my fellow animal genius, the boredpanda for the photos above.

Beyond Road Kill


Hi guys and gals.  Sorry I have been missing from the blogosphere for about two weeks.  In case, you were wondering what had happened to your favorite rabid grey squirrel, well, I’ll tell you.   I was ROADKILL.

Well, at least my also greying iMac was.  Below is a before and after photo.

squirrel thor
BEFORE: My Usual Screensaver
apple tire tracks
AFTER:  My Computer is Roadkill

One moment, I was considering how wonderful I look as Thor the Squirrel-God of Thunder and the next……….roadkill!

(Don’t those lines look like tyre threads?)

What followed were a few trips to various repair centres while carrying my elegant, sleek, silver and @#$&%@# darn heavy computer.  Then there was the anxious wait.  Will it survive?  Fortunately, all is now well.  Even my grand-niece, Ari, helped by invoking the healing power of the Lego Squirrel!

Ari squirrel
Ari: “By the power of GreySquirrel – Live Squirrel Live!”

Now ain’t she a cutie?

Dirty Job


You know, I was not always the handsome, debonair, upwardly mobile, world dictator wannabe.  Oh no.  Like everyone else, I had to start from the bottom and let’s face it, your bottom and my bottom may not be the same!

Errr…..what I mean is that some lucky sods start at the bottom of the pile but I had the fate of starting even further below that …….underground, so to speak.

My first job could be described as that of a “fecal surveillance hydrologist technician”.  But of course, I never heard anyone refer to me as that despite all the fancy name cards I handed out with that title proudly emblazoned.

No.  Instead I was kind of known as the Sewage guy or worse, the Shit Guy.  (…Cable Guy doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?).   You see, my job was to develop tests and to use them to detect the presence of water borne, disease causing pathogens in drinking water and since most of the nasties originate from the feces or shit of infected people, I was really looking out for traces of shit.

Yup, that was my job.  It involved taking water samples from all sort of water sources.  At the clean end, I collected tap water from a city distribution system.  But I also collected water samples in bottles from clear mountain streams,  less clear rivers, deep wells, aquifer pumps, shallow wells, muddy holes in the ground and at the other end of the spectrum, from sewage ponds.

In fact, I remember that my boss had a framed photo of himself in his office proudly showing him squatting next to a stinky sewage pond and reaching out to get a sample of dark, suspicious looking water.  I, on the other hand have burned all such photos of me doing that.  I have also over the years had to burn or bury many of my stinky work clothes!  Needless to say, my social life in those dark times was zilch.

But on a serious note, waterborne disease are estimated to affect billions and kill about 2.2 million annually.  In many countries,  clean treated potable water is still a privilege rather than the norm.  It is in these countries, that the need for simple, quick, portable  and cheap tests for monitoring water quality remains high.

To summarise, finding shit in drinking water……bad.  Doing something to remove the shit in drinking water ……..good.

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LGS is still testing water for your safety.

What was your “start at the bottom of the pile” job?