NerdList: Comics

In the spirit of providing my sole reader (hi Brendan!) with some content, I will now list all the (web)comics that I’m currently reading. I’m *very* picky about webcomics and one sure way to annoy the heck out of me is to geek at me about some comic you think I MUST READ. If it’s a dramatic, story-based comic, I have NO tolerance for mediocre or bad art. Also, I tend to despise “geek comics” that are solely about video or roleplaying games…Penny Arcade being the one exception, and even then it fails to catch my interest about 50% of the time.

The Current Comics-Suzy-Is-Reading List


How NOT to fix books…

Ugh. So there’s a couple of these videos on YouTube about “How to Repair Flaws in Used Books” that are absolutely wretched from a conservation AND personal-safety standpoint. In the first one, the woman douses the corner of a poor book with Ronsonol Lighter Fluid…aka NAPTHA, a dangerous, carcinogenic, flammable solvent (click for a PDF of its MSDS). Yes, go ahead and risk your health (not to mention the condition of your book) just to get that annoying price sticker off the book you’re going to sell on eBay for $20. Also, fire safety be damned!

In a second video, the same woman shows us how to remove an inscription (i.e. somebody’s name) from the fly-leaf or title page….WITH TAPE. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH. Provenance be damned!

My lungfish…let me show you it.

Pneumy the Lungfish

I have had a lungfish. His name was Pneumichthys, which is ancient Greek for “breath fish”. Of the three kinds of lungfish, he’s one of the friendlier species – a South American lungfish, or Lepidosiren paradoxa. The African species tend to eat anything that will somewhat fit in their mouths, whereas you can keep a South American lungfish with other fish (within limits, of course). And the Australian species is endangered and very difficult to find in the aquarium trade.

Pneumy lived in my 40 gallon “breeder” aquarium with about 8 “emerald eye” rasboras , a single female platy* and a lone yo-yo loach**. The tank is planted with several flavors of Cryptocoryne, some hornwort, Java moss and Java fern.

During the first 3 or 4 months in Austin, I worked at a local aquarium store – Pneumy had been there from day 1, but he was all the way back in a neglected tank at the end of a row. He was just a tiny worm baby, but I noticed him and built him up a nicer tank and started feeding him live blackworms. Once that started, he finally began to grow, but I think that being neglected at such a critical point during his development has left him stunted. Currently, he’s only about 10 inches, but he’s at least a year and a half old.

I fed him on frozen “shrimp ice cubes” and shrimp pellets once in a while. I just take a bag of the smallest cocktail shrimp, blend them up in the food processor until they’re in bite-size chunks, then portion them out into ice cube trays and top them off with a little bit of water. MUCH cheaper than buying commercial frozen fish food at a pet store. He’s picky though, and didn’t like the frozen Tilapia cubes as much as the shrimp, nor did he like the expensive beef heart I got from the pet store. Sigh.

The thing about Pneumy is that I think of him like one would think of a dog or a cat – he’s going to get rather large (possibly 3-4 feet) and live for a long time. The Shedd Aquarium has an African lungfish, named Grandad, who’s been there since 1933.

And in about 30 days I have to move them all to Chicago…

* The last of a 4 generation Platy “dynasty” from my Knox days
** I started out with 5 loaches, and after a heater malfunction and at least two suicide cases, I’ve only got one left. I’m not adding anymore, though I hate having the single loach I need to save room for Pneumy.


EDIT: Pneumy passed away in the spring of 2010, a victim of his own gluttony after he consumed a small Plecostomus catfish who didn’t take lightly to such an insult and in retaliation, caused a fatal amount of intestinal distress to the lungfish.


James alerted me to the awesomeness that is This-to-That, a website devoted to providing advice on how to glue one thing to another thing. Gluing metal to wood is one thing…gluing a crayfish to the inside of a plastic tube is another…

We’re currently racing to be the first lab in the world to do fMRI studies with crayfish. (Admittedly, we may be the only ones running this race.) Crayfish, as you probably don’t know, are a great, easy-to-use model animal for asking and answering questions relevant to the basic functioning of all vertebrate nervous systems, so by answering my question you will be indirectly benefiting all humankind.

What we need to do is glue the carapace of live adult crayfish to the inside of a plastic Nalgene centrifuge tube, which will then be placed inside a tiny (3.7cm) custom-made fMRI coil. We have to glue them in because if the animal moves at all, the image will be blurred. We might also be gluing the animals’ eyestalks in place because if they move, the brain moves.

Here’s the catch: because adult crayfish of the biggest size are difficult to grow, expensive to obtain, and rather endearing once you get to know them, we’d like to be able to dissolve the glue once we’re done so that the crayfish can be re-used, go on living their little crayfish lives, etc. So we need a glue that dries fast, won’t dissolve in water, is relatively nontoxic, and can be dissolved by a relatively nontoxic solvent. Any ideas?

Edwards’ Lab
Georgia State University

Read their answer here

Sad o’clock…no more!

The clock in the IT lab has been broken for the PAST THREE DAYS. Not only did it cease to tell proper time, it also made an increasingly continuous TERRIBLE, MADNESS-INDUCING NOISE.

But hark! A cowboy came and took away the clock, relieving us of its horrific aural torture.

Adventures in vintage art…

Whenever I go thrifting or garage-saleing, I’m ALWAYS on the lookout for gravel art. I’d like to call myself a “collector” of gravel art, but in reality I only have two pieces thus far – a geisha and a golden peacock. In fact, back in the days of Tulsa thrifting, I turned my nose up at a few other works of gravel art because they weren’t sufficiently interesting. In addition, I only go for the gravel art that has the canvas background – not ones that are gravel from edge to edge, i.e. a gravel subject and a gravel background. Ebay torments me with wonderful examples of gravel art for sale at exorbitant prices…I’ve resisted thus far, but it’s also proved educational. For example, my geisha is meant to have a samurai companion, and my peacock is apparently pining for his mate. Whatevs. I totally have the odd-couple of gravel art and I’ll be damned if I let just any stupid “country scene” or “fruit basket” picture horn in on the gravelly bliss that currently resides on my apartment wall…

Look to the left side of the picture and you can see the geisha and her peacock just chilling out on the wall of my old apartment.