i woke up and went to the harvard museum of natural history with alex, who said he's never been there before. we were originally supposed to go naturing today, but alex said it might rain, so we opted for the museum trip. we got there at noon, right at the tail end of sunday morning free admission (otherwise it's $7.50). turns out alex has been there before, when he was younger. the last time i paid a visit to HMNH was back in february, with snow still fresh on the ground. today, the museum was a mixture of hotness (some rooms has fans, others were air-conditioned) with the smell of mothballs. here are just some random observations:

  • one of my favorite specimen in the museum is the coelacanth, the living fossil fish. something this cool deserves special presentation, like maybe it should be dramatically bottom lit. the current lighting situation, track lights from above, puts too much glare on the fish tank.


antlers exit

pine marten

  • kronosaur skeleton! it'd look good in my living room (thought technically it's probably longer than my whole house).
  • not many people know this, but at one of the entrance ways, several antlers are suspended above the door with thin wires, kind of dangerous, don't let this exit be your last, georgia o'keefe style.
  • the pine marten has a pleasant smile. "thank you for stuffing me and letting me live forever!" it seems to say.


ground squirrel

argus pheasant

  • early last year i saw a male ring-necked pheasant on my morning commute out of belmont. they're beautiful birds, imported from asia for hunting, but then established wild populations. i wonder how they taste?
  • thirteen-lined ground squirrels, not only are they striped, but each stripe is further detailed with dots. fur patterns fascinate me.
  • the argus pheasant almost has peacock-like feather patterns, except they're in this sepia tone.

two toed sloth


slippery dick

  • the two-toed sloth has one of the funniest faces. little dark beady eyes, a little pig snout, black lips with baby fangs, so cute!
  • armadillos are weird looking, almost like lizards.
  • slippery dick? too many jokes, too little time.

cedar waxwing


howler monkey

sperm whale

  • over a month ago, while running along the charles river, i saw my very first cedar waxwing. this is what one looks like, they're pretty birds.
  • the last time that i came to the museum was back in february, when i found out they had a dodo skeleton and replica, during my dodo obsession period. when i came that time, i noted that i wasn't very impressed with the display, the dodo was hidden amidst the clutter of some other specimens. i'm happy to report that since that time, they've cleaned it up a bit, and now the dodo even has its own special spotlight.
  • from the description card: "howler monkey: the enlarge hyroid bone, under the jaw, allows howlers to have their distinctive resonant voice which can be heard three kilometers through the jungle."
  • if i can't have a kronosaur dinosaur skeleton in my living room, i'd settle for a sperm whale skeleton...

awe also saw the glass flowers, the halls of minerals and gems including the tourmaline and meteorites (and how could i not mention my favorite rock, labradorite?). my batteries gave out at 120 photos and i didn't have any to spare, so i was out of commission photo-taking wise. we quickly went through the peabody museum of archaeology and ethnology, then out the exit, a rather bored looking museum attendant sitting behind the front desk, a large tribal tattoo peeking out from the back of her red tanktop.

awe went to harvard square, where i wanted to catch the 2:30pm matinee of microcosmos, a documentary that everyone who's seen it tells me that i should see it as well. it was playing at the brattle theatre, and i asked the guy in the box office how much for a ticket. "$8.50," he said. for a matinee? too rich for my blood, i wouldn't pay that much to watch something i could basically go to a video store and rent for $3. besides, i don't know if i'd like the movie, from the same creators as winged migrations. i don't like my nature documentary just presented to me without much explanation, i like a steady narration. besides, why see a movie about bugs when i can see them for real? so i bailed out of that idea, and instead alex and i went searching for lunch, neither of us having ate yet.

we decided to hit skewers, our favorite middle eastern restaurant. broke our hearts when we saw that the place had closed down, the windows boarded up with newspaper, a note next to an american flag saying how they're moving to another unspecified location. awhere am i going to get my lamb schwarma dinner now? they had some really good food, i hope they relocate to someplace nearby, because i really loved their stuff. we ended up walking in this oppressive heat all the way to central square, to india castle, for their $8 buffet (the amount i would've paid to watch microcosmos, divested instead in nourishment). i've been to a few indian buffets, but never this one, although the name sounds familiar, ajust don't know if it was good or not. pretty much standard issue indian buffet cuisine, not a whole lot of selection, but i was so hungry, i really didn't care. the rice pudding really hit the spot though, on a hot day it's nice to eat something cold.

we walked back to harvard square, where alex indiscriminately snapped photos of people we walked by with his camera. i've pretty much given my former hobby of taking photos of strangers for kicks. i find everyone and everything interesting, there isn't enough digital film to capture it all. people today are also wiser to digital technology, and it's hard to get an honest take once they spot the camera. also in recent years, people are more suspicious with all this terrorism going around, it's hard to get anything by anyone. i will still take the occasional snapshot if it's really interesting and the situation warrants it, like this mod couple that walked by us, the man resembling a young mick jagger (hipster! and is that a pack of parliaments in your pocket?).

we hung out at my place for a little bit, watching the extended version of lord of the rings playing on cable. i debated whether or not to visit a video store and see if they have a copy of microcosmos, but the air-conditioning in the house felt so good, i didn't want to go back outside in all that humidity. alex left around 6pm, i tried to take a nap but got sucked into more television, including a documentary on seabiscuit, and a biography on lance armstrong. once the red sox-yankees game started, there would be no more napping, as i fixed myself some soup from a can and watched the matchup. i switched channels in the 7th inning, and wouldn't you know it, the red sox mount their comeback, and i missed it. i did watch the rest of the game though, lesson learned, fair weather fan. during commercials breaks, i watched enter the dragon on AMC and the restaurant on NBC. i know i'm usually not a big fan of reality-based shows (i HATE them), but i just can't turn away from the restaurant. maybe it's because it's partly about cooking (when it isn't about ego management), or it just seems like a carwreck waiting to happen.

i was going to shave off my goatee today, leaving just an ironic moustache, prefontaine style. i sort of didn't have time (and to be honest, i'm nervous about shaving any part of my signature goatee look), and didn't want to do it at night (i want the daylight so i can better document this). perhaps tomorrow morning, before my run. i'm just a little afraid that i'm going to have a white chin since the rest of my face is pretty tanned.

abba - mama mia