Happy Birthday, Pluto! ~ From Charon and Makemake

This made me so happy when I found it at work last Thursday, on Pluto’s 80th birthday.

Pluto

Happy birthday, Pluto! Pluto must be embarrassed or caught off guard- maybe this was a surprise party. The fact that Pluto is rolling his eyes makes me wonder if there’s more to the story. Charon, too, looks a little dubious. Maybe they’re wondering why Eris didn’t show up. But not Makemake! He’s so delighted he can’t even keep his party hat on straight.

 

Pluto looks a little dubious after having left his old 8 planet pals and having to hang out with these new friends, the Kuiper Belt Objects. I still love Pluto, even if he’s not a planet anymore. I think getting upset and protesting over the decision that Pluto does not exactly fit the definition of a planet of our solar system is pretty retarded. It’s not how science works- if you don’t like something based on fact and observation, you can’t just choose to ignore it or refuse to believe it. That’s how astrology works. Except that it doesn’t work. Pissing about Pluto not being a planet is like pissing about a scientist stating that the earth revolves around the sun- imagine how silly it would be if some scientist made that claim and everyone was so outraged they excommunicated him and forced him to recant.

Well, is Pluto really everyone’s favorite or are people just saying it is because they’re indignant over Pluto’s “demotion”? What is the most popular planet? What’s the most underrated planet? Which planet is the boringest?

 

I would guess that the most popular planet is Saturn, because it’s the prettiest. The most underrated planet might be Uranus. It spins sideways! It has oceans of liquid diamond! How cool is that? Most boring planet? I don’t know, I like them all. Maybe Mercury? I don’t know much about Mercury because we haven’t yet visited there with our Cosmic Eyeball of Size Comparison.

Earth, too, might be overlooked when people think about their favorite planet. Objectively, earth is massively rad, but we don’t think about it all the time. Kind of like how I live in Boston but feel no need to go on a Duck Tour and have never visited the Cheers bar. Calling Earth your favorite planet is like winning a trip to any country in the world and picking your own apartment. But Earth has a hell of a lot of interesting things on it.

D’you have a favorite?

Valentine’s Day Trunko

Valentine’s Day should be held over Presidents’ Day weekend every year. Last year it was, just like this year, and last year Jon and I celebrated by taking a rather senseless trip to Vermont. Not to go skiing, though- just for the sake of going to Vermont. There was a syrup factory there I wanted to visit, but it turned out to be closed for the season. Bummer. Still, it was a great weekend and I’m still nostalgic for it.

But this Valentine’s Day weekend was even better! I’ve known for a few years now what my favorite thing is: it’s traveling with Jon. Even the crummiest trip we ever took (Chile) was fun, because Jon was there.

Sometimes our trips only last a day, and this time it was a Maine excursion.

Stop #1- The state booze store in NH. We needed to stock up, tax-free.

Stop #2- Wells, ME: The only purpose in stopping here was to get the pennies from the smushed penny machine, which we found without difficulty. I really like the isopod sculpture at the base of the penny machine, although it’s probably not an isopod at all, just a boring round lobster.Maine 1

Stop #3: Kennebunkport, ME, HB Provisions: Again, the goal was to collect more pennies from a smushed penny machine. Success. We moved on.

Stop #4: Rock n’ Roll Diner, Scarborough, ME: Lunch. It was full of old people, probably because “Liver and Onions” was actually on the menu. I took a picture of my pennies collected:

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Stop #5: Len Libby’s Chocolate: We came here to visit the World’s Largest Chocolate Moose.

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It smelled like 1700 pounds of chocolate, which indeed it was. I wasn’t interested in the bear, because I’ve never understood why anyone would prefer dark chocolate.

Stop #6: Portland, ME, International Museum of Cryptozoology.

This stop was the focal point of our Maine excursion. As a rather rigid skeptic, I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed the museum and the museum’s founder and curator, who gave us a personal tour with a great deal of enthusiasm. I couldn’t be scornful of someone who loved coelacanths, early hominids, and gigantopithecus as much as I do. He noticed me marveling over certain models he had that I have included in my geologic time scale series, and asked for a link to the series. I e-mailed him later and referred him here, where all the species in the series will eventually end up. He said he was a big fan of fossil/crypid artwork. I could see that. People like to give him depictions of Bigfoot.

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He made my day by answering my e-mail right away, expressing his appreciation for my enthusiasm and interest in the topic (He and I definitely share of love of fossils, but I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I’m a non-believer. What would be the point? He’s not hurting anybody with his vast Bigfoot collection) and his enjoyment of Fossil Fridays. He also asked if I had a picture of Jon and me posing in front of the giant Bigfoot because he collects those. We have one, but it’s on Jon’s camera, not mine.

I was a fan of some of his monsters that looked a lot like some of my taxidermy projects:

 

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Anybody know what cryptid that is supposed to be in that picture?

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A sea cow? An elephant seal? I forgot to ask when I was there and I’d feel like a pest if I e-mailed the museum’s curator twice in one day.

Stop #7: Portland, ME: Funbox Monster Emporium: It was right across the street from the Cryptozoology Museum. It was more or less a run of the mill comic geek store, but I did pick up an enchanting Atom Ant toy:

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Stop #8: Yarmouth, ME: World’s Largest Spinning Globe:

I have a weakness for visiting the “World’s Largest” anything, and this was going to be a great day for that. Three “World’s Largest” in one day!

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I even remembered to bring the Eyeball of Size Comparison.

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The sun in the scale model solar system in Boston is only 11 feet in diameter, so Eartha here was much larger and much farther away. I wondered what star Eartha would represent if she were part of the Boston solar system model, with her size and whopping distance from the sun. Arcturus? Alpha Centauri?

My favorite thing is traveling with Jon. But Jon’s favorite thing is maps. These two things work well together, and Eartha’s home contained a special treat for Jon!

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As you can see though, Jon was destined to be disappointed that day.

Stop #9: Freeport, ME: Big F’ing Indian.

The “F” is supposed to stand for “Freeport”. That’s what they say.
The third and final “World’s Largest” of the day:

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Jon had to give me a boost in order to get me up on the Chief’s pedestal. While I was up there I noticed there were a few offerings left there for him: some burnt sage, a few polished stones with “inspirational” phrases etched on them, some quahog shells- I doubt they were left by any Native American. It was probably some Wiccan Maine teenagers praying to the Great Spirit to charge them with Indian Power. Dorks.

It was getting late, so we headed home. Best Valentine’s Day ever.

Good-bye, Large Chief. Thanks for the great day.

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Cretaceous Graffiti

When it’s bitterly cold out, I can go to the buildings I need to go to during the day at MIT through the underground tunnels.

There are nine buildings with animals in them, but I spend most of my time in the cancer building. At least twice a day and sometimes more I wait in the basement/tunnel for the elevator to arrive to take me to the 8th floor. It takes forever. So to kill time I like to draw things on the wall while I wait. Clearly I’m not the only one, though most people write things instead of draw.

Somebody washes the wall every now and then, but some drawings and messages seem to be a little hardier than others.

Nigersaurus

The “Hippo?”, along with the monster with the eyeball tentacle, are both mine and have both lasted for months and months somehow.

One day, months and months ago, while I was thinking about which dinosaur to choose for the Cretaceous period, I was thinking about some odd, fairly-recently discovered dinosaurs that I saw in the November-ish 2008 National Geographic. The one that was most striking to me was this dumb-looking sauropod with a wide, vacuum-shaped mouth and the numerous flat teeth. He was hilarious.

The elevator was taking its sweet time so I tried to draw that dinosaur from memory. It’s not altogether correct, but I had nothing to go by while drawing it and couldn’t remember exactly how it looked. Here’s what it’s supposed to look like:

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So sure, there were some problems with the Elevator Waiting Wall drawing, but I like that that’s where my first rough sketch for my Cretaceous dinosaur was created, and I like that it’s still there. I still stare at it while I continue to wait for the damn elevator.

I want to make it clear though, that I did not put pointy ears on my Nigersaurus. Someone else added those in while he or she was waiting for the elevator.

Someone else seems to be asking me if my intended drawing was a hippo. I prefer not to answer. I’m hoping somebody else will venture a guess while waiting.