worked all night, woke up, worked all day, before making another delivery. i was surprised by how warm it was when i left my house for cambridgeport. i wrote some code to interface with a serial box (a motion detector and a proximity detector) and i went down to client P to test it out. everything worked flawlessly. i went to my parents' cafe for some chinese dumplings and to deliver a new 300gb hard drive for my father (it was supposed to come with an external enclosure, but that was backordered so the company just sent me the internal drive instead). i came back home and bumped into my neighbor renee. she looked flustered and was standing outside her house confused with bags of vegetable plants (for gardening) in her hands. turns out her front door was flooded during last week's rain and the wooden floor boards had warped, making it impossible to open the front door.
in the early evening i went to harvard for another natural history lecture: "high stakes conservation: saving elephants through alternative jobs to poachers" by delia and mark owens. these lectures are sort of hit or miss. i've been to a few where i've almost fallen asleep. tonight was not the case however. the lecture started off with slides of the owens as young field zoologists working in africa, almost like vacation photos. during their studies they realized the animals were being slaughtered by poachers at an alarming rate, and found ways to stop the killing, everything from scaring them off with a plane to creating alternative jobs. it's really quite amazing, i'm hearing this incredible story, and there they are, on the stage, actually talking about their experiences! besides photos (served from a laptop), they also had occasional movie clips as well. the lecture also talked about the effects of the near-catastrophic poaching of elephants, and how surviving generations have changed, with a striking parallel to our own human society. for example, elephants form groups of 30+ closely-related female elephants lead by a matriach. with the decimation of so many elephants, these groups have become significantly smaller. with the loss of wiser, older matriarchs, these groups don't know where to find the water holes during times of drought, or the best places to forage. the age of sexual maturity of elephants have also decreased - it used to be 15 years but now it's down to 8 years - the equivalent of an adolescent girl giving birth to babies. the loss of dominant bull elephants also contribute to the disintegration of elephant social order: with no older males around to enforce the hierarchy, younger males become aggressive and will actually form gangs and war with other male elephants. and the most startling thing i heard was due to the fact that so many elephants were killed for their tusks, it's shifted the gene pool so now a lot of elephants don't even have tusks anymore. after the lecture, people were clapping for a long time, and it almost became a standing ovation.