2009-05-12 08:20 pm
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Zombie ants?

Parasitic flies turn fire ants into zombies
McClatchy Newspapers

By Bill Hanna, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Bill Hanna, Fort Worth Star-telegram – Tue May 12, 2:09 pm ET

It sounds like something out of science fiction: zombie fire ants. But it's all too real.

Fire ants wander aimlessly away from the mound.

Eventually their heads fall off, and they die.

The strange part is that researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M's AgriLife Extension Service say making "zombies" out of fire ants is a good thing.

"It's a tool — they're not going to completely wipe out the fire ant, but it's a way to control their population," said Scott Ludwig , an integrated pest management specialist with the AgriLife Extension Service in Overton , in East Texas .

The tool is the tiny phorid fly, native to a region of South America where the fire ants in Texas originated. Researchers have learned that there are as many as 23 phorid species along with pathogens that attack fire ants to keep their population and movements under control.

So far, four phorid species have been introduced in Texas .

The flies "dive-bomb" the fire ants and lay eggs. The maggot that hatches inside the ant eats away at the brain, and the ant starts exhibiting what some might say is zombie-like behavior.

"At some point, the ant gets up and starts wandering," said Rob Plowes, a research associate at UT.

The maggot eventually migrates into the ant's head, but Plowes said he "wouldn't use the word 'control' to describe what is happening. There is no brain left in the ant, and the ant just starts wandering aimlessly. This wandering stage goes on for about two weeks."

About a month after the egg is laid, the ant's head falls off and the fly emerges ready to attack any foraging ants away from the mound and lay eggs.

Plowes said fire ants are "very aware" of these tiny flies, and it only takes a few to cause the ants to modify their behavior.

"Just one or two flies can control movement or above-ground activity," Plowes said. "It's kind of like a medieval activity where you're putting a castle under siege."

Researchers began introducing phorid species in Texas in 1999. The first species has traveled all the way from Central and South Texas to the Oklahoma border. This year, UT researchers will add colonies south of the Metroplex at farms and ranches from Stephenville to Overton . It is the fourth species introduced in Texas .

Fire ants cost the Texas economy about $1 billion annually by damaging circuit breakers and other electrical equipment, according to a Texas A&M study. They can also threaten young calves.

Determining whether the phorid flies will work in Texas will take time, perhaps as long as a decade.

"These are very slow acting," Plowes said. "It's more like a cumulative impact measured across a time frame of years. It's not an immediate silver bullet impact."

The flies, which are USDA -approved, do not attack native ants or species and have been introduced in other Gulf Coast states, Plowes said. Despite initial concerns, farmers and ranchers have been willing to let researchers use their property to establish colonies. At the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association in Fort Worth in March, Plowes said they found plenty of volunteers.
2009-05-10 05:20 am
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Puppy learns his ABCs

Crazy puppy )

And also be on the road in a about 45 minutes. Sleep in my own bed tonight, YAY!
2009-05-07 08:38 pm
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Honey want some Pon Farr

Heard this today on NPR.

Star Trek enterprise to market 3 new fragrances
Colognes based on Capt. Kirk, Vulcan Amok Time and red shirt officers

—John Lendman
March 17, 2009

The world of fragrance is about to boldly go where few have ventured before: the Trekosphere.

Hoping to profit from the May 8 release of J.J. Abrams' new Star Trek film, chronicling the beginnings of Capt. James T. Kirk and the USS Enterprise, Maryland-based Genki Wear will release three Star Trek-themed scents on April 24.

John McGonigle, president of Genki, said the two men's colognes and one women's perfume will retail for about $30.

Soon, Trekkies will be able to channel their inner Starfleet commander—or inner William Shatner—with "Tiberius," based on Kirk's character. The scent, which carries the tag line "Boldly Go," is described by Genki Wear as having a "warm vanilla, white musk and sandalwood" base.

For those living like the next workday could be their last, there's "Red Shirt." This cologne, with the tag line "Because tomorrow may never come," is in honor of the unnamed Enterprise officers who don't typically survive past the TV show's first scene. It's described as having a "leather and gray musk" aroma.

But it's the "Pon Farr" perfume that may require a double take. That's right, it's for the ladies. Perhaps a great gift for mom for letting you crash in the basement for 50-some-odd years? Maybe not. It actually refers to the Vulcan mating ritual that occurs every seven years. So maybe this one's only for special occasions?

John Tenuto, merchandise editor of TrekMovie.com, the largest independent Star Trek news site, said fans have responded positively to the fragrances.

But some Trekkies still have doubts.

"I predict incredibly stinky Trek conventions in the near future," one online comment said.

Others simply made fun of the idea: "No Worf scent? You know, peaty, with a hint of lilac."
2009-05-06 06:31 am
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Good doggie!

From KNBC Los Angeles

Dog Tosses Self Between Attacking Mountain Lion and Master


Updated 9:12 PM PDT, Tue, May 5, 2009
Related Topics: Jim Amormino | Big Cats | Mammals | Nature and the Environment | Wildlife

The 5-year-old shepherd mix named Hoagie underwent a four-hour operation and was expected to survive.

A mountain lion Tuesday mauled a dog fending off an attack on his owner, who was walking with his wife on a trail near the Blue Jay campground in the Cleveland National Forest, authorities said.

A dog is mauled. Despite the attack, the dog is expected to survive after defending its owner from a mountain lion.

A later search for the animal by California Fish and Game wardens and others came up empty, said Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

The black shepherd-mix dog, named Hoagy, was severely injured, but was expected to recover following four hours of surgery at a Riverside County veterinary hospital, Amormino said.

Authorities looked for the cougar, estimated at about 100 pounds, to destroy it because it showed no fear and was trying to attack the man, Amormino said.

"Public safety comes first," Amormino said.

The campground was closed after the attack that took place near the Falcon Crest gate. It was not immediately clear if the search would resume Wednesday and whether the campground would remain closed, Amormino said.

Dog owner William Morse told ABC7 that he, his wife and dog were out for a walk when "out of nowhere a mountain lion just charged us, attacked us, and my dog saved our life, saved me and my wife's life."

Morse and his wife rushed the injured dog to fire station at El Cariso, and from there to the veterinary hospital.

"He just got out of surgery," Morse said. "We got to see him briefly, and he looks like he's going to be OK at this time."

Asked to describe the attack, Morse said the lion "was off to the side."

"I saw him coming in at an angle," Morse said. "He ducked around a restroom. I notice my dog noticed him. At that time he made a charge towards me and my dog met him right there in the middle and saved my life."

The attack was "probably about seven-eight seconds long and it was just a brutal, just a brutal attack," Morse said.

"I'm pretty shooken up still," Morse said. "My dog, Hoagy, is pretty traumatized at this time. And I just don't think I'll ever go back up there to visit the area again, at this time."

Morse said he had visited the area for about 21 years "and I've never ever been attacked."

Morse said he got his dog from an abused animal shelter.

"He's about five years old and just man's best friend," Morse said. "You couldn't ask for a better dog at this time."

While at the animal hospital, Morse said, he got a call from animal advocacy group that will help pay the bill.

"There's going to be a lot of aftercare," he said. "I'm just traumatized. I didn't think he was going to make it. And like I said, I don't think I'll ever re-visit that area again. I'm waiting for the Department of
Fish and Game to meet me and go through the area and they're going to do a little more investigation."

Amormino said that Morse's wife was about 150 yards behind her husband when the mountain lion attacked.
2009-04-29 04:31 pm
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Ace the Bat Hound? Hell Yes!

Was listening to Comic Geek Speak podcast interviewing Scott Beatty talking mostly about doing the new Buck Rogers comic coming out from Dynamite, when he mentions halfway thru he has been trying sell DC on doing the "definitive Ace the Bat-hound" story.

All I have to say is....

Hell Yes!

Being a bit of a fan of all the goofy 60's DC stuff I would love this. Please DC do his Ace the Bat-Hound story. I mean if Alan Grant can do that awesome Bat-Mite story in Legends of the Dark Knight years ago Scott Beatty can do a great Bat-Hound bit. Please. Please. Please.

Also one of Comic Geek Speak's sponsors is Library Binding which looks like a great place to have comics bound in hardcover and probably re-binding things like your Castle Falkenstein rulebook that all the pages are falling out of.
2009-04-26 09:12 pm
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One more minute

Havent we all had a relationship like this....

2009-04-20 04:55 pm
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Car vs deer round 2

Ok for the second time in about 18 months I had a deer hit my car. Sigh. I am fine. Just missed a days work.
2009-04-19 08:30 pm
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"I'm not gonna pull a Norm Coleman and take this to the courts."

-- Larry King, on CNN, telling Ashton Kutcher he concedes he lost their Twitter contest.
2009-04-18 11:00 am
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Brave puppy

Dog honoured for tackling burglar

A Labrador who fought to protect its owners from a knife-wielding burglar, has been honoured for his bravery.

Toby was stabbed four times in the chest and legs by the intruder but still managed to chase him out.

The Morton family, from Barnoldswick in Lancashire, had been staying at Leconfield Barracks in East Yorkshire.

They awoke to find their pet in a pool of blood. But the eight-month-old survived and has been awarded by the animal charity, PDSA.

The armed burglar, who attacked Toby with three knives taken from the kitchen, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years for the offence.

Toby suffered a punctured lung in the attack, in June 2007, as he fought to stop the offender going upstairs to the sleeping family.

After succeeding in chasing the offender out of the building Toby then woke his owner, Jonathan Morton, by barking.

“ Had it not been for Toby's determined barking and lunging at the intruder, Mr Morton would not have been aware of the threat to his family. ”
Chris Heaps, PDSA deputy chairman

Mr Morton and his wife Samantha praised their pet's actions.

He said: "Toby is our hero. I dread to think what could have happened if he had not intervened that night."

The Labrador has been presented with the PDSA Certificate for Animal Bravery by the charity's senior deputy chairman Chris Heaps.

He said: "Had it not been for Toby's determined barking and lunging at the intruder, Mr Morton would not have been aware of the threat to his family.

"Toby is indeed a worthy recipient of the PDSA Certificate for Animal Bravery."
2009-04-17 11:43 am
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I find this very amusing

From Chgowiz's Old Guy RPG Blog....

Dear Old School Renaissance/Revival:
There is no spoon.

Kindest regards,

PS. "The most important thing is to play and have fun!" (paraphrased) - Arneson, Gygax, Krebs (and many others)
2009-04-11 10:18 am
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Ann got me some new underwear... why does it come in a "resealable bag"?
2009-04-07 04:25 am
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Len Wein fire....

Whats with all the crappy stuff happening lately?

Harlan Ellison just posted the following on his website:

Monday, April 6 2009 11:55:36 EXTREMELY BAD NEWS

Len Wein called this morning. More than half of his house burned down earlier today. Len and Chris Valada and Chris’s son, Michael, got out okay, but their beloved dog, Sheba, ran back inside and is gone. In addition to both bedrooms, the bathroom, and much of the office, what was burned first was the original art for the first Wolverine story, the cover of GIANT X-MEN #1 and other art pieces worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Susan and I will be over there as soon as I pick up my car today, and as soon as I’ve met the dental appointment we have scheduled. This is a major catastrophe for one of my oldest and closest friends. Like your Host, Len is a lifetime freelancer and, even though he remains a star of the comics world, even though he created Wolverine and Storm–among other characters–he goes from day to day earning a freelancer’s living, as do I… and these are frightening economic times for those of us out there, to paraphrase Arthur Miller, “on a few words and a shoeshine.”


- Monday, April 6 2009 21:15:37


Debacle. Nothing left of the master bedroom. Open to the sky. Len is a genuine hero: Chris was at work when a power surge apparently went through the electrical system of the house, shorting out a wall heater that had been in place in the bathroom since the house was built...an appurtenance no one even paid any attention to: it was invisible, like a countertop. But it sparked, caught fire, and the fire caught on towels, curtains, bathroom mat, magazines on the hamper, clothes, and raced up the walls and across the ceiling, into the hall, and into the bedroom where Len lay asleep. Michael, Chris's son, was dead asleep in the loft of the small bedroom.

Len woke and managed to duck under the flames that were crowning. He found pants and got to Michael and dragged him awake, and they rushed out of the house. Sheba ran with them, but then, she wanted to hide, and hiding was what she did in the bathroom, so she ran back inside, was trapped in the flaming bathroom, and was overcome by smoke, and then incinerated.

I don't feel like going through any more. This site has become WEIN CENTRAL, and here is the answer to ALL of you:

There is NOTHING you can do for Len and Chris NOW.

Their insurance company--along with four fire trucks and DWP and the police and many friends--have been there all day. Susan and I got home about 7:40 PM, and I spoke to Len about an hour ago. They're okay, more or less, if you can call cudgeled into stunned immobility "okay." They are just the way you or I would be if we'd lost everything.

The insurance will help them rebuild or buy a new house, but after the loss of Sheba, the worst part is that everything Len had accumulated in a lifetime, from books to comics, to original art to his Shazam Awards (which were melted off the wall) to the complete set of DC library hardcovers that were caught in a heat so ferocious they melted into a 40-book block...spines bright and sharp and all one plastic-melted millstone. What you can do for the creator of SWAMP THING and WOLVERINE, if you are so moved, is NOTHING at the moment. Don't bother them with well-intentioned commiserations that will only distract them. At the moment they are staunchly trying to pull it all together.

Later...SOON...but LATER...you can help enormously when Len presents a cogent list of those items that are replaceable--many were unique and are gone forever, and that's that, so he'll come to terms with it in time--but lots of it is around, some more rare than other, but possible. Hang back; just chill till Len lets us all know what he needs. I'll post it here, it'll be on Neil Gaiman's site, and Peter David's, and Mark Evanier's and on and on.

Give it a rest for a month or so, kids. Let them alone, and I'll do my best to keep you informed. But don't waste your mud with sad'n'sorrowful platitudes. It will only distract.

Needless to say, I've told them there were about 40 phone calls and posts here. They are too stunned to be grateful, but just so you know I passed the good tidings along.

GeezusPeezus, I'm tired; and I was only a day-laborer.

2009-04-05 07:30 pm
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Sad Stuff

From the Star Wars blog

We just heard word today that Del Rey Outcast author Aaron Allston underwent bypass surgery yesterday, and is currently in recovery in the hospital.

Aaron’s family has set up a blood donation sponsorship. If anyone in the Dallas area would like to donate blood, you can go to the National Blood Exchange or Carter BloodCare. Say that you are donating blood for Aaron Allston, patient of Carter Blood Care in Bedford, TX, and give his sponsor number: SPON 047786.

Please send any cards to:
(But please DO NOT send any perishable items or flowers)

Aaron Allston
c/o Del Rey Books
1745 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

As soon as we get more information we’ll update this story.
We all wish Aaron Allston well and hope he recovers quickly.
2009-04-05 07:28 pm
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Sounds like most dogs

Bruce ([livejournal.com profile] bruceb) showed me this a little while ago...


Sounds like our dog Pixar who has a black hole for a stomach.
2009-04-02 10:04 pm
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Supernatural - The Monster at the End of This Book

Huh the prophet Chuck. Go figure.
2009-03-31 08:35 pm
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Angel Star Andy Hallett Dies of Heart Failure

From E Online

Andy Hallett, who starred as Lorne ("the Host") on the TV series Angel, died of heart failure last night at age 33, according to his longtime agent and friend Pat Brady. The actor passed away at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles after a five-year battle with heart disease, with his father Dave Hallett by his side.

Hallett, from the Cape Cod village of Osterville, Mass., appeared on more than 70 episodes of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff, Angel, between 2000 and 2004. The accomplished actor was also a musician and sang two songs ("Lady Marmalade" and "It's Not Easy Being Green") on the Angel: Live Fast, Die Never soundtrack, released in 2005.

The actor's character on Angel was Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan, or Lorne for short. Hallett's Lorne was a friendly demon, who, when not assisting Angel and his team in the investigation of various and sundry underworld mysteries, served as the host and headliner at a demon bar.

Back in 2001, Hallett told our own Jen Godwin that despite constant flirtation with David Boreanaz' character Angel, and the occasional sly Elton John reference, "We don't really know if he's gay. I don't really know. It's funny, because sometimes he's right in Angel's face, and that's when I feel it the most. And viewers would probably think, hmm, what's going on here? This guy's pretty curvy."

Hallett has spent his post-Angel years working on his music career, playing shows around the country. He had been admitted to the hospital three or four times in the past few years for his heart condition, according to Pat.

Another Angel castmember, Glenn Quinn, who played Doyle in season one, passed away in 2002.

A private funeral service will be held for family and close friends in Cape Cod, most likely over this weekend.

Above and beyond I am sad that he passed his presence on Angel was always appreciated by me. Seeing that he too had heart failure makes me greateful that I have good luck with mine the last ten years. May you find something to sing about in whatever exists beyond.
2009-03-28 11:23 am
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Press release amusement...

From ICv2.com....

'Hero System 6th Edition Core Rulebooks'
Due in August
Published: 03/27/2009 10:07pm

Hero Games has announced the August publication of The Hero System 6th Edition: Characters ($39.99) and The Hero System 6th Edition: Combat and Advertising ($39.99), two core rule books that form the basis for the latest iteration of the Champions RPG, which was first published in 1981 and was one of the first RPGs to base character generation on a point-buy system rather than random dice rolls and is arguably the oldest superhero role-playing game still in existence.

The two new core rulebooks, which feature full color art throughout, bring new levels of flexibility to the Hero System by allowing players to create any sort of character power, gadget, spell, vehicle, monster, or weapon that they can imagine. Steven A. Long, who was responsible for the 5th Edition of Champions, which was published in 2002, has written both 6th Edition Core Rulebooks, making sure to provide guidelines for converting characters from 5th Edition to 6th Edition that make the transition easy and insuring that books written for 5th Edition rules are completely compatible with 6th Edition.

" The Hero System 6th Edition: Combat and Advertising ($39.99)", Advertising? Superman sponsored by Soder Cola.
2009-03-27 06:41 pm
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found on the youtubes

Wandering around youtube today reliving what I remember of the 80's I found this. Great comment on it "ah the 80's... any fight can be resolved with a good coreography".

That made my day.
2009-03-25 08:30 pm
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Happy Pixar Day

One years ago we got the puppy formerly know as Shorty. Pixar Pugador Pumpkin Puppy has become a beloved member of the clan. And I am glad she picked us out.
2009-03-23 09:08 pm
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Someone IM'd me this....

Know, O prince, that between the years when the oceans drank the old forum setup and the gleaming cities of TSR fell to upstart card companies, and the years of the rise of the sons of 4e, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across RPG.net like blue mantles beneath the stars ... Hither came Future Villain Band, the Admin, dark-haired, sullen-eyed, banstick in hand, a scholar, a law clerk, a banner, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the forums under his sandaled feet.

And know, too, that once Future Villain Band came across Thornhammer, who would start threads within halls of Tangency designed to provoke and anger, but never return hence to respond to the replies. And tiring of this cowardice and provocation, Future Villain Band said unto him, 'By Crom, you will post again to these threads once you start them, on my oath, or I will see ye banned from Tangency, and forced only to post in Other Media, with the swarthy Shemites, or Roleplaying Open amidst its fair-haired beauties and villainous brutes.'

'And to cement this lesson of steel," Future Villain Band brooded, 'I shall give you a ban from TO, lasting 10 days, which is appealable to the other admins. And hopefully, you will know then what is good: to respond to posts; to see your enemies driven before you; and to hear the weeping and lamentation of those upon their friends list.'" -- The Nemedian Chronicles