Archive for February, 2013


Quotes from J.R.R. Tolkien

These are the contexts of the quotes that have been tweeted from @sueannbowling from February 21 through February 27.  All but the last are from The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Map of Eriador

Map showing the early part of the hobbits’ journey. This was a foldout in the original edition. The faint gray line follows Frodo.

“This is what I have really been longing for, for years.” Bilbo, as he leaves Bag End with the dwarves on his 111th birthday.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time.” Frodo in Bag End, after Gandalf has told him that Sauron has returned to Mordor.

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” Gandalf, speaking to Frodo in Bag End. This entire conversation was moved to Moria in the movie.

“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them?” Gandalf, after Frodo has wondered why Bilbo did not kill Gollum when he had a chance. Again, in the book this conversation is in Bag End.

“Even the very wise cannot see all ends.” Continuing on from the last quote, and winding up, “My heart tells me that he has some part to play, for good or ill, before the end.”

“Now far ahead the Road has gone, and I must follow if I can.” Part of a poem recited by Frodo as he sets out with Sam and Pippin. Again, the movie differs from the book.

“What exactly are you doing?” Bowling, “Horse Power.” Roi has observed Timi working around a silkie’s rear end, and questioned him. (Timi is doing pregnancy checks.)

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The sun will rise at 8:13 this morning. (I get up and this post goes live at 8.) It won’t set for 9 hours 43 minutes, until 5:56 this evening, and we’re still gaining 6 minutes 47 seconds a day. Even seconds add up! Next week the sun will rise before I do, but the week after that we’re back on Daylight Savings and I’ll be getting up before sunrise again until March 18, which happens to be the same day we start getting 12-hour days.

Clouds, sky

It’s really brightened up. This was taken less than a month ago, only about half an hour after solar noon.

Why before the solstice? Most obviously, because sunrise and sunset are defined as the time the upper limb is level with the horizon, not the center of the sun. Here, at high latitude, the sun rises at a rather shallow angle, and it takes quite a while from the time the upper limb appears until the whole sun is visible.

The moon is full today, but it’s no longer as high in the sky as it was at midwinter – only a little over 30 degrees elevation when it crosses the meridian. It’s been too cloudy to see it, though, or the aurora the active sun should be giving us. For that matter, it’s been a little nippy to go out at night – generally below 0° F, though it’s getting above zero most days.

I have decided to do something totally crazy and sign up for the A to Z blog challenge in April. On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays I have regular topics, so on those days I’ll be double-posting, with the A to Z post probably going live around 8 pm. The topic? Well, I went through the character list and glossary for my books, and found that I’m missing only one letter: Q. I’ll probably do Query letter for that, but the rest will be posts about my books, introducing the major characters and some bits of their world. It’ll be in kind of a strange order, but I’ll be able to give some background not in the books. I’ll try to remember to put the logo with a link at the bottom of each A to Z blog, as it is on this one (which is not an A to Z blog, but my regular Monday weather blog.)

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I’m still posting from War’s End, a work in progress. Last week Audi attempted to communicate with the Maung, using the reader to show an approximation of its color-pattern language. They’ve managed to exchange “friend,” and she’s asked it to stay with them. Its response is a surprise.

Kepler's Supernova, HubbleThe creature flashed white and silver, and then waved a tentacle toward the keypad on the reader. Audi hesitated, but held the reader where the Maung could reach it. The tentacle reached out, touching the keypad purposefully, but slowly, and letters grew on the screen.

Trade talk.

Audi’s eyes widened as she took back the reader and hastily typed, Maung know trade talk? and then held the reader back toward the creature.

Little, grew on the screen, and Audi grinned.

“We lucked out,” she told the other Humans. “This one knows a little trade talk.”

Trade talk? What’s that?

This post is a part of Weekend Writing Warriors, similar to the old Six Sentnece Sunday (now sadly defunct) but with an 8-sentence limit. To find the contributions of other fine authors, click on the logo at the top of the page. Others who were on Six Sentence Sunday can be found on the facebook page.Snippet Sunday logo

The pattern most people first think of in Appaloosa horses is the one that gave the gene its name—leopard. This pattern gives a white horse with round or oval spots of base color. There may be shading of the genetic base color on the flanks, behind the elbows or on the head.

Appaloosa horse

Most people would call this horse a chestnut leopard. In fact he combines a white rump, extreme roaning or snowflake, and clearly defined spots. Note the haloes on several of the spots.

Genetically, a leopard must have at least one Pattern-1 allele in order to have most or all of the body white. In addition, it must have one leopard allele and one wild-type allele at the TRPM1 locus. Two leopard alleles will lead to a few-spot leopard, with only a few colored spots. Other factors leading to the leopard pattern undoubtedly exist, but are still unknown.

The mane and tail may be mixed in color if some of the mane and tail hair grow from colored spots. The spots may have roan edges, called haloes, which normally develop after birth. Blacks tend to have more and larger leopard spots than do chestnuts, with bay being intermediate. Also, horses with black mixed in the coat (sooty) will sometimes have the black and red colors form separate spots.

Three of the horses in Tourist Trap have leopard markings.

Appaloosa horse

Another view of the same horse. Note the white “lightning strike” markings on the forelegs.

Token is the mare ridden by Flame. She is fairly tall—around 16 hands. She is a chestnut leopard, white with copper spots. Genetically, she is homozygous for the most recessive of the extension alleles, has two copies of the Pattern-1 allele and one of the leopard allele. She is wild-type at all dilution, pinto spotting, grey and roan loci. She could have genes for minor white marking on face or feet, but they cannot be seen.

Dusty is the gelding ridden by Timi, who would just as soon not be riding. He is the calmest and laziest of the group, and the easiest for a novice rider to handle. He is also the least responsive to leg pressure. Dusty is a buckskin leopard, around 15 hands tall. He has wild-type extension genes, bay alleles at the agouti locus, and one cream and one wild-type gene at the cream locus. His pattern-1 and leopard alleles are the same as Token’s. He has quite a lot of white in his mane and tail, so they are not noticeably sparse.

Penny is the guide and her horse, Freckles, is a bay leopard gelding. Freckles is a little keener than the horses assigned to Penny’s clients, but he’s a bit younger and the cross-country trip is part of his training. Freckles’s underlying bay color is a little sooty, so he has both red and black spots. Genetically he is the same as Dusty but with sooty and without the cream allele.

The other two horses have the leopard allele but are not leopards, and I’ll talk about them next time.

This was first posted, without photographs, April 2 2011.

Year 5, Day 85

Lioness, MorguefileThis year it is much clearer why the People do not stay here permanently.

Last year the final group hunt was highly successful, and I had to modify the heat pump to keep some of the excess meat frozen. As a result, the fish from the lake and Giraffe’s hunting with Patches were more than enough to keep us fed.

This year the final hunt brought in almost nothing, and the group dispersed early.

I followed one of their hunts, mostly flying over them, and for the first time realized that their upright stance, together with their ability to sweat freely, actually helps them hunt. Not just ability to wield spears, not just being able to see farther, but endurance.

Ever watch a four-legged animal run? They contract and stretch their bodies, and pump their lungs in the process. Breathing speed is tied to running speed. That’s not true for two-legged runners, and while two legs are not as fast as four, they can keep going a lot longer. I wonder if my own race evolved an upright stance for the same reason?

The People need a group with at least one expert tracker to keep after a single animal until it is tired, which is why Giraffe by himself cannot keep us fed. With Patches, he is able to keep track of a single animal and wear it down, and Patches is also good at picking the weakest of a group to follow. But it is Giraffe’s ability to run for hours, carrying water to avoid dehydrating himself, that allows him to chase an animal to exhaustion.

All of this, of course, assumes that there is an animal to chase down, and right now there isn’t. Luckily I can teleport to areas where game is plentiful, find a pride of lions hunting (usually at night) and teleport a quarter of zebra or wildebeest away from them once they’ve made a kill. With the modified heat pump, I can freeze the meat and only have to “hunt” about once each two fivedays. I still have too much empathy for the prey animal to make a kill myself, but we are eating quite well – well enough that I think I can resume my mapping.

Jarn’s Journal is a fictional journal of a fictional human-like alien stranded on Earth about 125,000 years ago. The entire Journal to date can be found at my Author site.

Quotes from Anne McCaffrey

These quotes were tweeted from @sueannbowling over the last week. The first six quotations are from All the Weyrs of Pern, by Anne McCaffrey.

cover, All the Weyrs of Pern“Who has ever controlled rumor?” Robinton to Lessa, after which he points out that while he has spread rumors, he has never been able to control how they turn out.

“Food was so often a sovereign remedy.” Lessa’s thoughts when the feasting starts after Impression, helping to console the unsuccessful candidates.

“People don’t change. React first, think later, regret at leisure.” Seball, telling Menolly what he has learned from Aivas’ historical records.

“We’re dealing with fearful men, and they’re more dangerous.” Seball’s comment when they realize that the Abominators might go so far as to kidnap Master Robinton.

“There is always an alternative course of action.” Aivas, after the silicone fluid has allowed the Waldo glove to be used and Manotti asks what they would have done if it didn’t work.

“The most important piece of equipment in the laboratory is your brain.” Aivas, speaking to those who are dissecting Thread.

“I just hope it’s still a happy place for our children when they’re grown.” Bowling, “Horse Power.” Amber is worrying about the way the Horizon Company seems to be forcing the colonists into debt slavery.

The sun will rise today at 8:38 and set 8 hours, 56 minutes later at 5:33 this afternoon. We’re still gaining about 6 minutes and 49 seconds a day, though the rate of gain is gradually slowing. The weather warmed a little last week, though not enough to make it excessively slippery; but this week looks as if the highs will barely make 0°F, with the nights as cold as 30 below. We’ve had very little additional snow, and very little is forecast for this week. But the sun is much higher in the sky; it’s almost 14° above the horizon at noon.

Sheltie with frisbee

My first dog, Derry. I’d forgotten how he always turned a frisbee upside down to carry it.

March and April are going to be busy; I signed up for 10 adult learning classes, thinking I wouldn’t make the draw in all of them. Well, I did. In March I have a class on Andrew Lloyd Wright’s musicals, one on the 1964 Alaska Earthquake (which I vividly remember as it lasted about 2 minutes in Fairbanks), health Issues and a harmony singing class. Then in April I’ll have 6 classes spread over 4 days a week. I’d better get some posts pre-scheduled, or I won’t have time to do them. At least there is no homework and no tests!

I have most of the slide scans indexed now: only a disk and a half to go. Still haven’t heard back on the super 8 film, but it may not have reached iMemories yet. It’s been a trip down memory lane, even if the vast majority of the slides are pretty hopeless. The group I sent out last week included some 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 slides I couldn’t get digitized locally, taken with a camera I owned before I even got the 35 mm.

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Things seem to have settled down a bit, and I’ll go with Weekend Writing Warriors as a regular Sunday blog. That allows an 8 sentence upper limit, which is what I’ll normally post. The Unofficial Six Sentence Group will be once a month, the first Sunday of every month, with the 6 sentence limit, so each first Sunday I’ll post 6 sentences and sign up for both. I’ll probably be late getting the link on the facebook page unless I remember to do it just after midnight – I’m about as far west as you can get in the US.

We’re still in War’s End, and Ginger has just finished using the reader to find out what Maungs eat.

Pleides“Give me the reader back, and I’ll try to communicate with it,” Audi said as the creature entered the clearing. The reader had a small keypad, and Audi fussed with it until the screen showed a complex pattern—mostly green and blue, with touches of gold. Then she held the screen where the creature could see it.

The Maung immediately flashed the same colors and pattern over its body.

“Friend—friend,” Audi muttered. “At least I think so. Let me try ‘stay with us’ next.” She worked again with the keypad, and showed a new pattern to the alien.

If you’ve read any of my books, I’d really appreciate reviews. My Amazon and Barnes and Noble pages look awfully bare.

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The Leopard Gene in Horses

This information was initially blogged, without photographs, on March 29, 2011.

All genes for white markings produce a wide range of amounts of white. The leopard (Appaloosa) gene produces not only a wide array of amounts of white, but also of patterns. Unlike other spotting patterns, it is often progressive with age.

Because the patterns produced by the leopard gene vary so much, I will spend more than one week on them. This week, I will focus on breaking the patterns down into components, following Sponenberg, and commenting on their distribution and genetics.

In the United States, the leopard gene and the patterns it produces tend to be associated with specific breeds, notably the Appaloosa and Pony of the Americas breeds. The Colorado Ranger and the mustang often exhibit the leopard complex colors, as well.

Worldwide, however, the leopard complex patterns are very widely distributed throughout Europe and Asia as well as the Americas. Further, most breeds which have any of these patterns have all of them—a further indication that a single gene is necessary. The only exception at the current time is that a second gene locus, Pattern-1, may be needed to produce the full leopard pattern. A number of other modifiers probably exist, but they are not known. None of these modifiers, however, seems able to do anything without the presence of at least one Leopard allele.

Genetically, the Leopard allele is one of two possible alleles (the other is wild-type) at the Transient Receptor Potential Cation Channel, Subfamily M, Member 1 locus, thankfully abbreviated to TRPM1. This locus is on equine chromosome 1. Leopard is incompletely dominant over wild-type. The locus is called Lp, and the alleles are LpLp (Leopard) and Lp+ (wild-type.)

Pattern-1 has not been located exactly, but it may be linked to the Extension locus (determines chestnut) on equine chromosome 3. Pattern-1 increases the amount of white in the coat and is necessary for full expression of the leopard pattern (not to be confused with the Leopard gene.) Yes, the terminology is confusing!

Leoopard gene effects

The white sclera and mottled skin show clearly on this POA, which also displays varnish marks.

The first set of characteristics produced by the Leopard allele includes mottled skin, striped hooves, and a white sclera in the eye. White ear tips can also occur. These characteristics are not definitive, as other color genes may cause them, but almost all horses with the Leopard gene show at least one of them.

Horses with the Leopard gene may show other white markings, including the normal face and leg markings. If the leg markings are not present, white may still show on the cannon bones in what are generally called lightning marks or lightning stripes.

Another thing the Leopard allele may do is to introduce interspersed white hairs in either of two patterns. Frost gives a fairly uniform distribution of white hairs over the body, most prominent over the hips and in minimal cases only over the hips. Unlike classic roan, the roaning develops after birth and increases with age up to a point. The dark head and legs of classic roan are generally not visible in this pattern. Unlike grey, the horse eventually reaches a relatively stable color.

Snowflake has a similar developmental pattern, but is most prominent on the foreparts and the white hairs are concentrated into small white spots.

Extreme frosty or snowflake patterns may develop into a speckled appearance, white with small colored areas. All leopard-complex roans may also have varnish marks, with areas over bony prominences (notably the nasal bones and hips) retaining dark pigment.

The Leopard allele may also produce larger but symmetrical white markings, generally starting with a few small white areas over the hips and working forward and downward until the whole horse is white, with the flanks and throat being the last areas to lose color. This is the pattern most strongly influenced by the pattern-1 gene. If the pattern-1 allele is present, white is more extensive than if it is not present. Full white is only possible with the pattern-1 allele. These symmetrical white markings are usually present at birth, though they may increase with age.

The Leopard allele can produce colored round or oval spots over the body. In most cases, these are visible only against a roan or white background, but occasionally they can be seen against pigmented areas of the coat. The spots may be darker or lighter than the base coat color.

Surprisingly, these spots are more likely and more numerous if the horse has one Leopard allele and one wild-type allele. If the horse is homozygous for Leopard (has two Leopard alleles) the spots are more likely to be absent or sparse.

Finally, two doubtful or deleterious aspects of the Leopard allele may be noted. First, leopard interacts with black-pigmented hair to make it brittle. The result is the sparse manes and rat tails often seen on leopard-complex horses whose base color is black or bay and who retain dark color in their manes and tails.

Second, homozygotes for the Leopard allele are generally night blind. This is rarely a problem with modern usage of horses, but should be kept in mind if riding a homozygous  Leopard over unfamiliar ground in darkness.

The named horses in Tourist Trap all have the Leopard allele. I’ll describe Raindrop, Token, Splash, Freckles and Dusty as we get to the combinations of leopard markings that each represents. In fact, I’ll give the full color genotypes I’ve given each. The horse on the cover of Horse Power, near the top of the right sidebar, also has the leopard gene., as does Dottie in the story. In fact, Dottie is supposed to be a granddaughter of Raindrop, and inherited both the Leopard and Dun alleles from her.

Year 5 Day 50

Fire, MorguefileHow do I get myself into these things? At least Rain Cloud agreed to stand with me!

I verified that WildDog is Songbird’s child. (And Giraffe’s, though I am determined not to say anything that will puff him up any more than does being guardian to such a fine boy.) But Songbird still regards Rain Cloud as her shaman, and herself as a part of Rain Cloud’s group. So Rain Cloud accepted WildDog as a part of his clan, and I vouched that he was born into that group. And we both held him aloft between us for the recognition by the whole group. I hope that as he grows older he will not be treated differently because I took a part in his Naming.

I counted fifteen other children being Named, rarely more than one to a group. Rain Cloud’s group counted two including WildDog, and one other group also had two. There seemed a reasonable balance between boys and girls, and both were greeted with equal joy.

It is a good thing that Songbird waited until the last moment to make the adornments for WildDog, as he is growing so fast that her original plan for a shirt (really a piece of hide with a hole for his neck) would have been little more than a collar. As it was, the hide made him a garment of sorts, and between that, the white and red clay skin painting, and the token I gave him, he looked very impressive and quite definitely not like an animal.

Songbird painted me, too, and while I felt rather silly, I was at least far cooler than with the mask and leopard skin last year.

I even added a bit to the ceremony. Only the People control fire, and as symbol of this a child is passed through smoke as part of the Naming. I added a bit of the sweet-smelling sap to the fire, and the smoke had a fragrance Rain Cloud said was different from any he had smelled before. Privately, he asked if this could be a part of the ceremony from now on, so I find myself committed to another task for the People. At least finding the sap is no problem, as I know exactly where to get it.

I wonder what other treasures this world holds?