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Kistaro Windrider, Reptillian Situation Assessor

Unfortunately, I Really Am That Nerdy

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Squirrel politics and dumpster diving
color cycle (slow)
Two, two posts in one! I whomped up most of the first on my PDA before Calculus.

Squirrel Politics

On the way to class this morning, I heard a vocal sound best described as "sqwarj". As I happened to be by a tree at the time, I suspected a squirrel. I began scanning the tree for the culprit.


It was indeed a squirrel.

It was paying surprisingly little attention me, considering the stereotypical shyness of squirrels. It seemed to be involved, instead, in squirrel politicks.

Its "sqwarj" was directed not at me, but at another squirrel occupying a different branch of the tree. The besqwarjed squirrel replied. "||~||'|, |~~|?" (The "~" represents a tail-twitch, and I suspect it counts as a syllable. Sadly, I have not yet gained the skill to distinguish between varieties of twitches, nor can I distinguich between varieties of chirp. There was, however, definite punctuation.)

"~~ ~|." It gestured with its nose towards the ground, where a squirrel of slightly redder fur- obviously from a different family- stood on its hind legs, watching me warily. In retrospect, it was directing its attention to the wrong danger.

"||||'! Squeep! ~~!" The second squirrel in this narrative turned to face the squirrel on the ground. "Sqwarj! ||'|, ~~|~'|! Sqwarj ~~!"

"Zeef. ||'||~|." The squirrel on the ground was obviously having none of it. "~~~ ~."

The original sqwarjer turned its attention to the apparent intruder on its territory. "Eeeeeeeev~~!" It jumped to the trunk of the tree and ran down it, joined by the other squirrel in the tree, yelling its war cry. "Eeeeeev!"

"Eep eep!" The redder squirrel ran for it- aiming for a different tree, of course. "|||~|." Pursued by the gray squirrels, it was chased up the tree.

The two gray squirrels just sat at the base of the tree. "~~ ~|~."

"||| |||'||." The redder squirrel sounded peeved.

Satisfied, the gray squirrels wandered back to the original tree.

According to my psychology book, "humans are different from animals in that animals do not use language." According to me, this among other parts of my psychology book is clearly a load of hogwash.


Dumpster Diving

In the five-minute break we got in the middle of Psych class, I wandered over to the restroom in McDonnell Hall, the building in which the class was housed. On the way there, I observed a large box marked "TRASH."

That's always lucrative, but time was short. I opted to come back to rummage through it later, should it indeed be there.

Well, class finished, and it was indeed there when I returned. So I was up to my elbows in back issues of optics magazines, grabbing a few interesting looking ones, when another box marked "TRASH" was pushed out the door of the adjacent office. And that one looked like it had shiny things in it! I quickly went over to it, not really caring much for pride, ignoring the fact that whoever was discarding these objects would get to see me rummaging through it.

Dr. Ailen Wang was rather amused to see me. She'd just put the box out. "Dumpster diving?"

"You should know by now that boxes marked 'TRASH' attract engineers unless the proper variety of repellent is used."

She just laughed. "I don't mind. There's no reason for that stuff to go to waste if anybody wants it."

Extracting a complete five-diskette set of 51/4s for Microsoft Windows 3.0 (Requires 286 or better), I replied "Post an ad in the engineering school that you have this stuff availible. You'll have maybe 1/4 of it by Monday, even though it is the summer."

She said she'd take me up on it; I haven't been to the CEC since to know if she actually posted such a message, but I wouldn't be surprised.

The end take for me, by the way, was:

Microsoft Windows 3.0 (who could resist?)
a broken 31/2 floppy drive, probably a busted motor, that's going to become wall decoration
A perfectly good ugly clock with a dead battery
Two boxes of floppy diskettes, probably with interesting data from the index in the boxes
Two back issues of Physics Today
Two back issues of Photonics

Whatever makes people think I have hoarding tendencies?

  • 1're sounding like me. Good haul there...and the squirrels sounded like fun, too.

That is just an AWEsome story about the squirrels. I laughed out loud. Keep 'em coming!

Hmm, on Scrubs just now, there's a box labeled "Free stuff" which meshes nicely with your "TRASH" story.

Dumpster diving is pretty well-established here at MIT. There's even a mailing list - reuse - that is specifically meant for things like this. If you have something and don't need it, leave it somewhere and post to the list. The probability that it will be gone within the next few hours is pretty high, depending on what it is.

Animal talk has pretty much the same voice-music, inflection, pattern as human talk does. From your report, I'm guessing that chicken-talk and mouse-talk is very similar to squirrel-talk.

Good work on the dumpster-diving. If you find a functional copy of Windows 95, I'd dearly like to have it if you don't mind; I need to downgrade from Windows Millenium.

Here's a tip- the dumpster outside the art building (assuming there is one) will yeild really nice results, lots of which will be useful and/or very classy. (Just watch out for slightly hazardous chemicals in there.) Most of my friends who dumpster-dive have those as their favorites. In one of those, my grandfather once found this magnificent polished wooden... object, it was sort of a tray with hinges and indentations like an old-fashioned cash tray, we never did figure out what it was meant to be, but we used it to sort office supplies into.

One of my teachers a few years back had all of xir math textbooks collected from dumpsters. That was xir main source for any class material.

I don't have Windows 95 availible, sadly. What I got was five large floppy diskettes- y'know, the big ones- of the operating system that precedes Windows 3.1. It has all the inconviniences of 3.1 with none of the stability. The disks were retrieved entirely for laugh value.

I might have to wander through the art building sometime; I know there is one, I just have no clue where it is. (I'm a programmer... my art lies in, at best, fractal drawing algorithms.) I haven't been rummaging through actual dumpsters in this- the closest I've come is the trash room during move-out. This was just a box in the hall. It seems to be the preferred method of disposal on campus: to label something TRASH, set it in a hall, and then wait about a day. It will spontaneously and usually silently disappear, except when the students carrying it must grunt too loudly (as was the case when I helped my Calculus II lab partner take a broken easy chair, "TRASH (please steal)" sign proudly hung, and cart it about 1/3 of a mile back to the residential area.

Something that I didn't take from the box was a 500-page 3-pound dissertation. I don't remember exactly what it was on, but it was some very, very specific geological thing. As I skimmed it, I was struck by four things: how far over my head it was in a subject I know nothing about, how much work must have gone into it, how much talent it reflects, and how thoroughly inapplicable the content seemed to be.

As for squirrel communication- yes, it's very much like most other mammals I've met, except cuter. And more comical.

What does | mean in this context?

I still have my Windows 3.1 disks--I once tried to install it from inside '95, but it didn't like me for that.

Anyone who writes that animals don't have language... has never spent any time with animals. (Would you believe, until a few years ago, scientists were saying that animals don't have EMOTIONS?)

I was raised by dogs. Our dogs all had perfectly good language skills, and communicated extremely well and directly, with no chance of misunderstanding. (That doesn't mean that they were particularly SMART for dogs. Just expressive.)

Your squirrel story greatly disturbs me. It completely obliterates my theory that there is only one squirrel. Well, I suppose I could revise it to state that there is only one squirrel in Pennsylvania. And it is rather insane. Maybe that's because it doesn't have any other squirrels to twitch at so eloquently :/

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