Monday, August 6, 2007

Bathroom or Comedy Club?

I usually like to start my blog entries off with a picture for a couple reasons. I figure for those who can't read at least there's something there for them. And for those who can read, at least they have something cool to look at if they decide to wade through the bog of my diatribe that particular day. I just returned from lunch, where I used the restroom. That is something I usually try to avoid when out and about, I find it can make you seriously question whether you actually want to eat at their establishment or not. But I did not have my camera with me, so I can't give you an illustrated story here. I thought about going back tomorrow with my camera, but then I thought someone might get the wrong idea seeing me going into the bathroom with my camera, so I ditched that idea. I guess I did have my camera phone with me, but I have no clue how to get the picture anywhere usable from the phone. I know, somebody out there could probably teach me, but that's one trick this particular old dog doesn't really want to learn. I tried calling my computer to send it the picture that way, but I just kept getting a busy signal - don't ask.

But back to the point of this story, to get to this bathroom, you have to go through a little back passageway, then through a series of doors, well just 2 - but that can still be considered a series. Once you get in the bathroom proper, there are some swinging doors in front of the stall, so see, it is a series of doors. Now if you are anywhere even close to 6' tall and you go walking upright into the room housing the stall, you will whack your forehead really hard into a sloping ceiling that drops away drastically as it disappears behind the toilet. Then you try figuring out how to shut the swinging doors while bending over so as to not hit your head again, but of course you can't bend over so far that your head gets whacked by the closing swinging doors. I quickly came to the realization that there were only 2 options here. You either had to be a practicing Chinese circus contortionist, or you had to stand on your head on the toilet to keep from banging it on the sloping ceiling, and I'm not a practicing Chinese circus contortionist. Now I'm guessing there is one more possibility as well, I would think this bathroom would be just perfect for a Hobbit. But I don't really know what a Hobbit is, since I have never seen Lord of the Potter, so it's purely speculation on my part. But this also brings up another possibility I suppose. If you were like that young magician chap, Harry Rings, you could just make yourself smaller and everything would be fine. But again, I didn't see any of those movies either, so just more speculation on my part. At this point my daughter would rudely interrupt and say that you're not allowed to use popular culture or movie or book references if you've never seen them or read them. To which I say, as long as you can keep all the facts straight about it, I think you should be able to talk about anything you want to talk about.

But once you are standing on your head on the toilet, you're then able to read the sign on the sloping ceiling that warns you not to hit your head on the ceiling, so that was good. But then comes the problem of how to do what you came in there for in the first place in that position. Please don't try to get a mental picture of this, it won't be good for your mental health. You kind of have to laugh at the situation though, it's one of those "only on Saipan" sort of things.

So once you finish your business you attempt to get the swinging doors open while still balancing on your head, then you can do a backflip to get yourself out of the stall and back into the bathroom proper. And that's when you see the next part of the comedy act. It's a little metal sign, the kind you would expect to buy in Ace Hardware. It has Chinese characters across the top, and on the bottom it says something like "Please washing after use". Forget the fact that this was not just a sign written on a piece of paper, this is something they actually sell just for this purpose. So my first question would be, who English you? But then after I shake my head and bring myself back to reality, I'm thinking - Duh!!! Like you really need to tell anyone to washing after use. If you've ever tried doing what you do in there in that position, you're thinking you should probably be hosed down with a firehose.

After all that you then have to try finding your way through the maze of doors, hoping you can remember the way out including all the secret knocks. But after sitting on your head all that time, the blood has all rushed to your brain causing all kinds of strange sensations, and temporary disorientation. Well I am thinking it might be temporary for some of you, for me it seems to just be a state of being lately. After all that as you're passing the waitress station, they give you a tray and ask you to deliver it on your way back to the table. Ok, I might have exaggerated slightly on that last one, but everything is totally accurate, at least as far as my blood soaked brain can recall. So......wanna meet for lunch tomorrow?

PS - all butchery of the English language was purely intentional and used so as to make the story authentic for Saipan.

A New Nudibranch For Me

Once again I spent the majority of my weekend underwater in the Grotto, looking for cool and interesting creatures to take pictures of. I spent plenty of time with my old buddies Halgerda guahan and Halgerda malesso, and saw a bunch of new egg ribbons. I believe that the Halgerda malesso are about 2 weeks behind the guahan in their mating and laying of egg ribbons, but again, that is speculation on my part from what I've been observing. Toward the end of my 2nd dive Sunday afternoon, I had a bunch of decompression time to burn off, so I was up in the 20' depth area, just looking around the rocks to see if I could see anything new or unusual. That's when I came across the guy in the picture above. It's a well established fact that my eyes really aren't that good for close up viewing, so when I first saw this, I thought it was some sort of weed or algae growing on the rock. It looked like it had little leaves blowing in the current, but the more I watched I noticed it was slowly moving forward. Then I looked closer and determined that it was indeed some sort of critter. It was 2-3" in length and about 1/4" in width. I really couldn't see any detail on it at all underwater, so I was just snapping away hoping the pictures would show up well on the computer. When I got back and put the pictures on my computer, I was amazed at the detail and colors in this little guy, he was absolutely spectacular. I have looked through my nudibranch book, and haven't seen anything exactly like him. Many thanks to Erwin Kodiat on nudipixel.net for identifying this guy as a Pteraeolidia ianthina. Once I found out what it's name was, I look on Sea Slug Forum for more information on this particular nudie. I found quite a bit of information on them from Dr. Bill Rudman, here is what he says about the family:

"Two quite different groups of sea slugs have evolved ways of using the ability of plants to convert the sun's energy into sugars and other nutrients. In simple terms they have become "solar powered".The herbivorous sacoglossans are suctorial feeders removing the cell sap from the algae on which they feed. In most, the cell contents are simply digested by the slug. Some species however have evolved branches of their gut which ramify throughout the body wall and contain plastids, which are the photosynthesising "factories" from the algae, alive and operating. In many cases these plastids are chloroplasts, but sacoglossans that feed on red and brown algae are also reported to keep the plastids from these algae alive as well. As I show elsewhere in the Forum, one species, Elysia cf. furvacauda changes diet and plastid at least three times during its life history.In nudibranchs, which are all carnivorous, many have evolved similar ways of keeping whole single-celled plants (zooxanthellae) alive in their bodies. In most cases the zoxanthellae are obtained from their food, often cnidarians, which already have symbiotic zooxanthellae in their bodies. This symbiosis as evolved many times within the nudibranchs with examples in many quite unrelated families and orders."

So if you're looking for these guys, chances are they'll be fairly shallow, and somewhere they can get direct access to sunlight. In the Grotto, you would want to look for them on the big rocks close to the rock you jump off of to enter the water.

Needless to say, it was a great weekend of diving in the Grotto, and I've got quite a few other pictures to put up as well. But right now I've got a talk show to do, so this is going to have to suffice for the time being!