Monday, March 30, 2009

New Kitty

My Kitty
Saturday I bought a new kitty teapot/ creamer to add to my collection. Today I did some searching online to see if I can identify the maker/ time period.

The teapot appears old, and well used but not too damaged. It is very much similar to Erphila Cat teapot/ creamers made in Germany and the U.S. circa the 1920's to 30's.

But I'm not sure. My cat has some slight differences, and also has no markings on the bottom except #9520. If my cat creamer is a Erphila, then it's worth about 99.00 to 175.00! But I don't think that it is a Erphila. It's a copycat! ((I'll have to purchase some antique price books soon, if I'm going to keep up this hobby.))
Erphila Kitty

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Orinoco Flow

Love this song. My friend Jonathan talked about his memories of the time this song was popular. I remember being in a glass art shop in Rockport, with big picture windows facing the ocean. It was a brilliantly sunny day. A gay man owned the shop. This song was playing, and I asked about it. I purchased it that day. I think the video is particularly good too.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Once Again, The Caveman Speaks

Neanderthals and human evolution are becoming frequent topics on my blog, particularly because I've been keeping up with a couple of science websites, watching for news in paleontology. This latest article is very interesting to me, though probably an absurd waste of time to others.

A professor at Florida Atlantic University used fossils to recreate the vocal tract of Neanderthals. Given these parameters, he recreated what Neanderthal speech may have sounded like. Below is an audio clip of the vowel 'e.' (BTW, they sound like leprechauns! Happy St. Patrick's Day!) Because of differences in the anatomy of the vocal tract, Neanderthals did not have the full range of modern human speech. Neanderthals were limited to fewer speech sounds, so they likely did not have the linguistic capacity Cro-Magnons did.

Still, they likely spoke.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Human Evolution 101

<--- Peking Woman

I continue to be fascinated by human evolution. It is especially exciting during the last decade, because scientists are using genetics and more updated dating methods to revise earlier conclusions about human history. Recently, scientists have
revised the dates for the existence of Peking Man in China. Peking Man and Java Man are fossils of the Homo Erectus species. Homo Erectus, like modern humans, derived from Homo Habilis in Africa, about 2.5 million years ago. 'Homo Habilis' means 'Handy Man,' referring to the species' use of tools.

The Homo Erectus species then migrated out of Africa in waves, into Asia and Europe. Homo Erectus migrated out of Africa
before modern humans. The Neanderthals, for example, evolved in Europe from Homo Erectus. Peking Man was thought to exist in China 500,000 years ago, but now scientists find it may be 780,000 years ago. This fact would mean that Homo Erectus was capable of surviving in very frigid temperatures, and that there were likely several waves of migration along different glacial corridors.

Meanwhile, back in Africa the Homo Erectus species evolved into Homo Heidelbergenis, (not confirmed) which later became modern humans. At that point, modern humans migrated out of Africa, and eventually overtook all the ancient Homo Erectus species in Europe and Asia. We are all derived from this relatively small group of modern humans migrating out of Africa. The question still remains, however, if variations found on earth now are a result of intermingling with different Homo Erectus species.

Homo Habilis (Africa)

Homo Erectus (Africa) ---->Out of Africa

Homo Erectus (Asia) ---> Peking Man & Java Man & Homo Erectus (Europe) ------> Neanderthal

Homo Erectus (Africa) ------> Homo Heidelbergenis -----> Cro Magnon (modern humans) ----> Out of Africa

Homo Erectus & Modern Humans compared

A Woman's Tools

I have a vintage Mirro Cooky & Pastry Press, circa the 1950's, 1960's I would guess. It belonged to my friend Steph's mom, and she kept it in pristine condition. Clearly many a fine pastry and cookie was made with this little kitchenware. Inside the recipe book she checked off several types of cookies she wanted to bake--- Danish Royalties, Brown Sugar Bar Cookie, Sour Cream Cookies.

I began thinking wistfully about all the family events, holidays, funerals, and weddings these cookies may have appeared. It's not my family history, but it could be. My grandmothers, aunts, and mom all had their own cookie presses during the 60's. When I look at this object, (which is just a cold, austere aluminum) I think: How many times did her hands touch this press over the years, creating things to nurture a family and make people happy?

My cat was intrigued by the box.....

Monday, March 9, 2009

White Mountains, New Hampshire

I had a great two days in the Bretton Woods area of New Hampshire this weekend. Eighteen of us rented a condo. On Saturday I went x-country skiing at the Nordic Center. We mostly traveled on green (easier) trails, and then traveled some on blue (moderate) trails. Considering we probably skied 4 plus miles, I did okay, though I fell a lot. Here's a clip of me mastering a small hill, very slowly and without falling on my butt.

On day two I went snowshoeing on Willard Mountain. The elevation was 2,800, but the climb was about a thousand feet. We experienced a very beautiful trail, through pine trees, along ridges, and across streams. As we climbed, the sun came out, and the air was very warm. At one point we got very wet because it was 'raining' icicles off the trees. At the top of the mountain, we ate lunch, and shared our bread with some Canadian Jays. They were very gorgeous birds, and landed on our hands to feed. The view was of the mountains surrounding Crawford Notch.

Monday, March 2, 2009


I'm frightened of big snakes, and if I ever saw an anaconda or python in the wild I would no doubt freak. I guess for most humans that would be a normal reaction.

At a safe distance, though, snakes are fascinating creatures. We especially like seeing stories and photos about gargantuan snakes. The bigger the more gripping (as long as it's not gripping us). Recently, two interesting reports have surfaced in the news about our serpentine friends. One, a supposed 100 ft. snake was photographed from a helicopter in the Baleh River in Borneo. This photo, if true, matches local legends of giant serpent sightings over the centuries.

However, the general consensus is that the photo is a fake, created by Photoshop or some similar program. What convinced me is the proportion of the snake's size to the rest of the scene. Assuming all of those little green blobs are jungle trees, the snake in proportion would be much larger than 100 ft.

There are a few other problems too, backed up by scientific facts. One, there would have to be other very colossal snakes in the area to sustain a breeding population. Maybe not all 100 ft ones, but certainly larger than any snake now existing.

Another reason why a 100 ft. snake is unlikely to exist, is that snakes are cold-blooded. A snake of this size, in order to sustain enough energy, would require very high tropical temperatures. We know this from the fossilized remains of a real giant snake, the Titanoboa, that lived 60 million years ago in Northern Columbia. This snake was 43 ft. long and lived in a tropical forest habitat with temperatures ranging consistently around 86-93 degrees.
The Titanoboa

The Titanoboa, related to the boa snakes that live today, is the largest prehistoric snake ever known. How big are the largest snakes now living? Well, they're little minis compared to the Titanoboa, though you still wouldn't want one slithering around in your back yard. The Asian Reticulated Python holds the record has the longest snake at 33 ft. Anacondas, also gigantic snakes averaging 20 ft., are not as long as pythons but have more girth and are very powerful. To give you an idea, here is the vertebrae of the Titanoboa compared with an Anaconda living today! Besides this photo is a real Anaconda. Either one is colossal enough for me!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Massachusetts 1938

I typed "Massachusetts, 1938," the year my mom was born, into Google images. Here are some random photos I uploaded.

Woburn, MA 'Building 128'

Beverly, MA
Boston, MA
Cambridge, MA