Monday, February 28, 2011

Weird bone report

Andrew McKenna-Foster, the Natural Science Research and Education Director at the Maria Mitchell Association found this weird bone in their collection a few weeks back. Any guesses as to what it is??

It is very rounded and smooth; no identifying tags or location clues besides being here on Nantucket (which can be a red herring with all the trade and travel initiated by the whalers).

While I was looking around the web for some clues to this mystery, I came upon this site and really liked it, so I thought I would share it with you:

Lots of fun fossils on there, one of my favorites is a member of a family of giant armored turtles called meiolaniid which can be seen at the Smithsonian Natural History museum in DC. If you are ever in the area,  check out some of our greatest national treasures, the various free Smithsonian museums (19 at last count) on the Mall in DC:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pump up the volume

Every morning I have been dragging my sorry butt downstairs to the shop to jog on my treadmill. This morning, our Labradoodle, Swegen, decided his new game would be to toss a tennis ball over, under, on, or around me as I am jogging. I'd like to say  a graceful dance ensued, a pas de deux of human and animal, but in reality, it led to a very quick coda with said dog getting to explore the snow outside on his own. 

Like almost everyone else, I enjoy listening to music while I jog. My treadmill has a TV which if connected would be another way to while away the blocks/miles, and I've tried to listen to comedy podcasts and NPR too, but each time, I tend to do much better listening to music. Once in a blue moon I'll forget my itouch or discover I haven't charged it and find out that I do much more poorly without the inspiration.  Even with a somewhat eclectic and not all that "beat happy" a play list (My Chemical Romance, Weezer, LIVE, Cake, U2, David Bowie, Flaming Lips, Muddy Waters, White Stripes, insert 90s grunge band here) my gait increases from one of a dead sloth to a mildly motivated Galapagos turtle.And as a certified geek, I know there is some science to back that up:

“Music is like is a legal drug for athletes,” says Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., from London’s Brunel University School of Sport and Education, one of the world’s leading authorities on music and exercise. “It can reduce the perception of effort significantly and increase endurance by as much as 15 percent.”

I am not specifically advocating for the following sites, but there are many on the web that let you find a series of songs at a specific beat per Minute (BPM) to help you exercise; try: or of course, Lifehackers.

So get out there or in there, keep the dog out of the way or entertained, and enjoy. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

spelling bee, quentin the quahog and a good blog to read

Many people think that there is not much to do on Nantucket in the wintertime; and for islanders, this is what we keep wanting them to think. But, it's not true, in fact, just the opposite. Winter is our time to socialize, to get out and spend time with friends, to take long walks in the Middle Moors, and to do things that make life on "the Rock" special. This is even more important this winter, when travel to "America" has been a bit more challenging.

Tonight, for example- there are at least 3 or more social events happening on island; all of which have the possibility of being uplifting, entertaining, and educational.

1) Sustainable Nantucket presents a screening of the Film "The End of the Line" with a Q&A with local fisherman:  more info at
2) one of the many "One Book One Island (OBOI): events this week. A showing of "The Tuskegee Airmen at the African Meeting  House; Len is organizing some music and the readings.
3) our normal Friday night event: trivia night at the Rose and Crown; we usually fill up two 6 person teams (boys and girls ;-)) Our team names are BassAckwards and Clueless; tonight's fun is a benefit for Family Planning and includes raffle items. Every week, almost everyone we knows shows up for trivia for a chance to win cash and bragging rights.

Speaking of bragging rights :-) the Civic League Team (Members include myself and Chris Lohmann and Peter Morrison) won our island Spelling Bee last week which is a benefit for the "Friends of the Nantucket Public Schools ( . Here's a picture of our team with our trophy and t-shirt costumes and a link to the story.  It was a hard fought battle- we have some amazing spellers on island, many of whom study and practice and come back every year (21 teams) and we just barely squeaked by Nantucket Bookworks! Example words: lederhosen, nachtmusik, dachshund, perestroika, knish, schloss, quixote (with the hard pronunciation), philhellenism, sayonara, sarsaparilla (both teams- down to two then, forgot the second "a" out of 4 "a"s, and jipijapa (pronounced "hippy-hopa").

the last two weeks have been full of other OBOI events, potlucks, superbowl parties, long chats in the produce aisle, seeing one another at the high school science fair, and competing in trivia and game nights. Quentin the quahog is our version Punxsutawney Phil. This year he squirted to the left indicating 6 more weeks of winter.

For the next few weeks, the political atmosphere will heat up on island as we prepare for Annual Town Meeting and our yearly elections as well as open a brand new public safety facility. Summertime, we become more serious, work 12-16 hour days, marvel/curse at the increase of population from 15,000 to 60,000 people not counting tourists, and while we enjoy the warmth, we look forward to our "social season".

If you have made it this far in today's entry, please go read and sign up for this excellent blog by my friend and colleague, Dr. Greg Smith! [].... today's post covers a recent topic currently circulating among island biologists and conservationists concerning feral cats.