Feeding Reading 2021

It’s once again summer and that means free books from Kellogg’s Feeding Reading program. Buy any of the participating Kelloggs products and submit a photo of your entire receipt, and you will receive a credit for a book from their selection, which this year includes some classics and some recent releases.

Some of this year’s free books

You can get up to six free books either to ship to your house or donate to a library of your choice. In our house we live on Pop-Tarts and Eggo waffles, so I have already gotten all six of our books, some for my kids, some for my nieces…and one for me.

The program goes until the end of September, but make sure you submit your receipts within two weeks of purchase to get your credits. Happy reading!

A Squirrel Obstacle Course 2.0: now with socialization!

Last year I wrote about Mark Rober’s pandemic-inspired foray into backyard squirrel watching as seen in his YouTube video on creating a squirrel obstacle course. He’s now revisited this topic a year later to improve on the course, creating a 9-part challenge for the squirrels in his Walnut Heist video.

As I explained in my post, the original video explored squirrel behavior using two perspectives: ethology, the study of animals’ behavior under natural conditions, and behaviorism, measuring behavioral responses to stimuli. In his new video, he also explores a third dimension, studying interactions between the squirrels as they navigate the course.

Returning are our four experimental subjects, this time cast in heist movie-style roles based on how they approach the course: Rick (the acrobat), Marty (the hacker), Frank (logistics), and Phat Gus (the mastermind).

Phat Gus, who last time turned out to be a pregnant female, is still my spirit animal.

So the obstacle course is even more elaborate this time and even incorporates the heist theme with some Mission Impossible stations. It is of course fun to see how the squirrels tackle and eventually overcome all of the challenges, but I especially enjoyed seeing how the squirrels interacted when more than one of them was on the course at the same time. They exhibited plenty of social behaviors, such as:

  • Stealing bedding from each other’s nesting boxes
  • Copying a jump/strategy that they watched another squirrel attempt first
  • Shadowing another squirrel in the air duct maze from the outside
  • Getting in a small spat when two squirrels were in a small enclosed space together
  • Mating behavior (we’ll keep it G rated here)
  • Social grooming (one squirrel grooming another)

This made me realize that despite seeing squirrels nearly every day of my life, I didn’t know all that much about squirrel social behavior. So it was fun to learn more about that while enjoying such an entertaining video. But I definitely wasn’t surprised this time at how quickly the squirrels completed their mission, making this obstacle course look easy!

Good job, Phat Gus!

Fan Art Friday: Sunny Days in the Empire

Welcome back to our Star Wars coloring book club, where every now and then Kiri from Star Wars Anonymous and I color the same image to compare and contrast.  We’re kicking off summer with the next picture in the coloring book, this Imperial mandala.

Once again I had no plan for this one, just picking colors as I went. It came out fine! The colors are bright and summery. Check out Kiri’s version here, which is also bright and summery!

All the circles here, including the Imperial crest and the Death Star, reminded me of a kind of sun/moon/eclipse theme. This, in turn, got me thinking about the most famous moon in Star Wars…not the Death Star, but the Forest Moon of Endor. This moon has always been a bit confusing: is the moon named Endor, or is the planet it’s orbiting named Endor? The answer: both! Endor the gas giant planet has nine moons, the largest of which is also called Endor. The others are totally unpronounceable, like many things in the Star Wars galaxy. (Another moon is Kef Bir, which is featured in The Rise of Skywalker as containing some of the wreckage of the second Death Star.)

I don’t really have a point to this tangent, except that it’s weird for a planet and its moon to have the same name. But it’s definitely not the weirdest thing in Star Wars!

Happy summer everyone! Hope you have plans to spend some time in the sun with your loved ones.

Fan Art Friday: Royal Flowers

Welcome back to our Star Wars coloring book club, where every now and then Kiri from Star Wars Anonymous and I color the same image to compare and contrast.  This month I picked a flowery image of Queen Amidala because it reminded me of spring!

I didn’t really have a plan for this one; I just started with Amidala’s beautiful outfit and went from there with complementary colors. I’m happy with how it came out, though it does look like she has weird vines coming out of her head 😂

It’s so hard to pick a favorite of Amidala’s outfits, but this one is definitely up there. I love how her hair becomes part of the headdress. But I can only imagine how heavy it would have been for her to wear!

Check out Kiri’s special collaboration with her Padawan here.

9th Blogiversary!

It’s been nine years since I said “Hello, world!” to start off my blog. At the time, I had two main motives: I felt I was consuming a lot of content but not creating anything, and I wanted to get back into writing with the eventual goal of writing fiction. I think it’s both a success and a work in progress!

And now for something completely different. Let’s take a break from our regular nerdiness and do something fun. I found a “Get to Know Me” tag from Lindsay Lovin’ Life with 100 questions, and since it’s my 9th blogiversary, I’ll answer the questions ending in 9.

9. Can you curl your tongue?

Yes. Most people can, and it is possible to teach yourself how. Studies of twins show that the ability is not a case of simple genetic inheritance of a single trait.

19. Do you consider yourself a good cook?

Definitely not. I don’t particularly enjoy cooking, and I have a set of about 5 simple recipes that I can cook fluently. (I do like baking, however.) One good thing about this pandemic is that I’ve stopped judging myself for using food delivery services like DoorDash.

29. Do you have siblings?

Yes, I have one older sibling. My penname Meimei appropriately means “little sister.” ~_^

39. Do you/have you played any sports?

Yes, I play tennis. I played varsity doubles for several years in high school. I haven’t played at all since my dad passed away, since he was my rallying partner; I hope to teach my kids when they are older.

49. How are you feeling right now?

Tired but happy to be writing.

59. What is one item on your bucket list?

To actually publish, in some form, a novel! I have several started, and one almost completely drafted thanks to NaNoWriMo, but nothing near publishable.

69. What’s the thing you can’t leave the house without?

Well, really, it’s my purse, but that’s kind of a cheating answer because in my purse are my phone, sunglasses, chapstick, wallet, pens, snacks, etc. Also, did I mention I have a Star Wars purse?

Star Wars The Last Jedi Rey Canvas Faux Leather Dotty Satchel Handbag -  Cyberteez

79. What’s your favourite food?

Pasta with butter and parmesan. Also anything sweet.

89. What’s your favourite sport to watch?

Well, obviously tennis. Serena Williams has been my favorite player since high school. During the Olympics I watch gymnastics and figure skating. I also enjoy watching Cleveland Indians (soon to be the Cleveland…something else) baseball with my family; Carlos Santana is my favorite player, but he has once again been traded away. Definitely a rebuilding year.

99. Who is your celebrity crush?

Oh, I have such a Star Wars answer for this: Ewan McGregor, whom I first saw in Episode I: The Phantom Menace. He’s just so charming and has a wonderful accent and a lovely singing voice. I had a life-size cardboard cutout of him as Obi-Wan in my room in high school. Don’t worry, I didn’t keep it when I got married and moved out.

So now you know ten more things about me than you did before. Thank you all most sincerely for reading; the best surprise to me about blogging has been how many awesome people I’ve met through my blog over the last nine years.

And here’s to many more!