June 2007

Worst case of blue balls ever seen on a garter snake

When dealing with snakes, you tend to assume that there is only one prickly end. But I had a bit of a surprise this afternoon when we were changing the cage of Piss-Boy, my male red-sided garter snake. While handling him, I experience a sharp prick came from the other end: the little bugger was everting his hemipenes — the ends of which are rather knobby, it would appear. Pricked by his prick, as it were — or at least one of them: snakes (and lizards) have two.

Poor guy: while he’s sired 92 baby garter snakes in his time with me, he hasn’t had any since July 2001. And when he’s in the mood to mate, he makes quite a spectacle of it: courtship takes weeks, and he doesn’t eat for months; he gives constant attention. I presume that a couple of the female garter snakes in the snake room are madly exuding pheromones, which is what has set him off. Unfortunately, the only female garter snake of the same subspecies in our collection is his daughter (from the 2002 litter). So he will have to, um, deal with it somehow.

Safari for Windows


Apple announced a public beta of version 3.0 of Safari, its Mac-only web browser. Only it’s not a Mac-only browser any more: there is now a Windows version. Rob Griffiths wonders why:

I’m still not certain exactly why Apple felt it necessary to release Safari for Windows, but if this experiment works, it will be good for Mac users; if Safari is used by more people, then there should eventually be fewer sites that won’t work with Safari.

I’m curious myself. Clearly we’re missing a piece of the puzzle. There was a business case for porting iTunes; there is almost certainly one for porting Safari. Compatibility and market share aren’t enough: I bet that Apple would have spent fewer resources if it had just directly improved compatibility. My guess is that Apple has got something up its corporate sleeve that requires a cross-platform Safari. They’re up to something. We just don’t know what that is — yet.

Update, 6/12: In his WWDC post, John Gruber points out some reasons for porting Safari: iPhone development and Mac evangelism are secondary, but the big one, he argues, is the ad revenue from the Google search bar, which already yields something like $2 million a month for Apple. Search engine revenue makes web browsers self-sustaining: it’s how Firefox raises funds. Google feeds an awful lot of people.

Cecily Irene Crowe

Cecily Born to my brother and his wife at 1:43 AM MDT yesterday morning, via C-section, and weighing 3.65 kg, their first daughter (and my first niece), Cecily Irene Crowe. She was more than a week overdue, a big baby, and with a shockingly full head of hair.

A flurry of family activity in Calgary in the wake of Cecily’s birth — today, says Geoff, is the dog-and-pony show — too bad I can’t be there for it. My mother is apparently over the moon.

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Putting the culture into herpetoculture

Three more articles are now available on this site: one is new, two are old; all three deal with the social aspects of reptile keeping.

The Art of War on the Online Forums was my editorial for the September 2000 issue of The Ontario Herpetological Society News: it was a response to the flaming and nastiness on what was then the most popular reptile board, at least among my reptile-keeping friends and colleagues. I tried to parse out some of the more common causes for antisocial behaviour. (Since then, there has been an abundant literature on moderating online misbehaviour, but if it existed then, I wasn’t aware of it.)

How Volunteer Organizations Work — And Why They Don’t, my December 2000 editorial, was me using my bully pulpit to make a point about the OHS. A club needs to earn its membership: you can’t expect people to join your club without giving them a good reason to, I argued. It was a warning against inertia. Prescient, I suppose, because the OHS folded a few years later, pinned between volunteer burnout and membership indifference.

How to Write an Article for a Herp Society Newsletter is so new it hasn’t seen print yet: Bob will probably publish it in Chorus, the OARA’s newsletter, in the fall; I couldn’t wait that long, so here it is. In it, I identify some of the more common mistakes I’ve seen reptile hobbyists make when trying to write newsletter articles. As a newsletter editor, I always wanted more articles, but getting people to write them was hard. Getting good articles was harder.

There is a reason for posting these articles: I plan on doing some more writing on the theory and practice of amateur herpetological societies. Given how far behind I am on all my projects, I can’t say when I’ll have more to say on this subject, though.

Two gigabytes should be enough for anyone


640 MB of RAM seemed like plenty on my G3 iBook. 768 MB seemed sufficient on my G4 iMac. But 1 GB never felt like enough on my Intel iMac — maybe the Intel Macs need more memory than their PowerPC antecedents? — so last month I upped it to 2 GB and noticed an immediate improvement: for one thing, Safari no longer crashed as often. Two gigabytes feels like enough RAM — at least for now.

Palm’s Foleo

At one point I pontificated on this spot about handhelds and mobile technology on a fairly regular basis, and though I haven’t used a handheld in a year, having since reverted to pen and notepad, I should nevertheless say something about the Foleo mobile companion, the laptop-like thingy that Palm announced, or rather pre-announced, last week.

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Health matters

Don’t look now, but I think I’m finally feeling a bit better. Over the cold, at any rate, and possibly over the flare, too. I’m also feeling a little more energetic.

Annual checkup on Wednesday accentuated the positive too: blood pressure back to normal, weight down nine pounds since last year.

So, good news all around. (He said, waiting for the other shoe to drop.)