Funny puppies, clawed hands, chess, and subliminals

I was reading (and love) that Armenia has made chess a part of their official school curriculum. I taught Nefarious to play chess when she was four or five and she also plays it regularly in class, something that began in grade one at her school. My feeling is that in addition to the obvious academic elitism that’s linked to the game, it also helps kids develop focus and concentration, the ability to do planning and manipulate mental maps of the future, get hands on understanding of the consequences of action and the value of strategic thinking, memory skills, and even more abstract abilities like being able to read the behavior of different opponents and lots more. To many people’s surprise, it’s also been my experience that kids pick up chess very quickly and have no problem understanding the game and advancing their skill level quickly. And as the story of the Polgar sisters, three girls trained in chess by their father Laszlo, shows, getting kids hooked on the game early can turn them into masters as their eager minds gladly absorb skill through practice.

But as I promised, I wanted to share with you the next pet in the series. I know there are some cat-like features (a wretched disease-spreading animal I despise and would gladly see made illegal as a pet for the benefit of humanity), it is emphatically a dog-beast. Thus the bone. There is also a crystal ball in the pictures, which I made because before I used my left over clay I just rolled it into a ball and left it lying around like a marble. So I thought maybe that divination tool would be fun to create.

Yesterday I finally got around to using the small bag of alginate (in a Smooth-On kit) that I had lying about, and we cast a copy of Nefarious’s hand. It didn’t turn out as I hoped, for two reasons. First, because I did a poor job on the pour job, and when I put the plaster into the mold and shook it about, some air bubbles remained trapped in the finger tips. Plus I damaged it demolding, breaking it in a few places. And two (three?), her hand position was not ideal — it was intended to be a wall mounted hook when completed. But it was fun and she wants to try again so I’ll pick up some more when I can. Next time I’ll take more care, and will probably cast the hand in hard plastic rather than breakable plaster.

I have been slacking a little on casting the jewelry, largely because it’s a multi-step process that requires me to get up and move about quite a lot. Every one of these is preceded by such dread at how difficult and unpleasant it will be to achieve, so I end up putting it off and choosing activities that require less motion. I’m still paying for the two long walks I took the weekend before last… it takes depressingly long to recover from less and less muscle exertion. I am really dreading paraplegia and don’t even want to think about losing my arms, which I can feel being affected more and more every week.

Other than that, in the funny-but-perhaps-embarrassing category, I had a very odd and quite lengthy dream last night. I was away at some summer activity, a camp perhaps or even a stay in another city. I don’t know if “I was I” or if I was playing the role of someone “other than Shannon”. Probably. Anyway, I met a girl and there was some romance and she was from the same city as I’d be in that fall so she was looking forward to a relationship continuing that fall. But then I hooked up with her gay brother, and she found out about it, and the rest of the dream was about the social drama that followed back home. The dream was not explicit — the focus was the social dynamic. I think that it was spawned because of all the positive gay characters that have been on 90210 (which, unlike the more obviously gay-positive Glee, I actually enjoy) and so on these days. I am very glad that Nefarious is in perhaps the first generation in which a person’s sexual orientation seems to be a complete non-issue. I hope I’m right and those prejudices are a thing of the past. I do hope that the anti-gay marriage silliness is the last hurrah of that flavor of bigotry.


  1. Tobias wrote:

    That hand mold would’ve made a great wall-mounted keyring holder…

    Monday, April 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Permalink
  2. Ella wrote:

    you do realise that dogs spread toxoplasmosis as well, right? and are more likely to spread it in a wide range e.g. parks. Dogs are also more likely to spread rabies. If you don’t like cats then cool, but to say you’d like them outlawed is a bit hypocritical considering you advocated against banning pitbulls in the past. I mean, I’m not really a dog person, and am a bit phobic of them, but you won’t see me advocating banning a breed; or all of them.

    In Other things, I love all your figurines, they are super cute! And I really hope you are taking good care of yourself! All the best dude.

    Monday, April 18, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Permalink
  3. HJP wrote:

    ELLA – chill out. I don’t think Shannon really meant any harm to cats as pets, there seems to be some sarcasm there. Also, per the link from Shannon it plainy says there are other ways Toxo is transmitted BUT NEVER MENTIONS DOGS.

    From wiki – “Transmission may occur through:
    Ingestion of raw or partly cooked meat, especially pork, lamb, or venison containing Toxoplasma cysts. Infection prevalence in countries where undercooked meat is traditionally eaten has been related to this transmission method. Oocysts may also be ingested during hand-to-mouth contact after handling undercooked meat, or from using knives, utensils, or cutting boards contaminated by raw meat.[15]
    Ingestion of contaminated cat feces. This can occur through hand-to-mouth contact following gardening, cleaning a cat’s litter box, contact with children’s sandpits, or touching leach, and can survive in the environment for over a year. It is, however, susceptible to high temperatures—above 66 degrees Celsius (150 degrees Fahrenheit), and is thus killed by thorough cooking, and would be killed by 24 hours in a typical domestic freezer.[16]”

    Wiki does add this insightful item – “Up to one third of the world’s human population is estimated to carry a Toxoplasma infection.[3]“

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 12:27 am | Permalink
  4. Miss Liss wrote:

    I love, love, LOVE these little leftover gobbets! How big are they? Could you perhaps picture them with something for scale? I collect small things, don’t know why but I just love anything in miniature.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 5:28 am | Permalink
  5. Shannon wrote:

    Well, Ella, it’s one thing to be phobic of dogs. To have an irrational fear that is. More so to do it while making false claims about disease. But it’s another thing altogether to see that a third of the world’s human population are infected by Toxo and that it has some pretty intense consequences… enough that one can make a very rational case against cats. Dogs may be “scary” but it’s a statistically inconsequential risk, especially in relative terms.

    But I think we all know that banning cats is about as likely as banning alcohol.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Permalink
  6. Ella wrote:

    haha oh crap, didn’t mean to start a shit-storm. Sorry for opening up the topic. Will agree to disagree. FWIW my ‘false claims’ are based on health & safety signs in parks in the UK when I was a kid. Is that a more or less reliable source than Wikipedia? I don’t know. At any rate, sorry to have stirred the pot, I was just trying to make a friendly counter-point, not to be aggressive. Take care yo.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Permalink
Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *