Monday, October 24, 2005

Rattie's Adventures in Fargo - Homeward Bound

Alas, the day has come for Rattie to leave us. We have so enjoyed having him here as our guest!

But Rattie is VERY excited to be going home. In celebration of his time here, we gave him some going away presents - some new sneakers, a backpack, and his own little teddy bear. He especially like his teddy, which will keep him company on the long trip home...

Have a safe trip, Rattie!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Rattie's Adventures in Fargo - DAY TWELVE

Karen my friend shows off Rattie's badgeToday was another long day for Rattie.

We arrived at Valleycon shortly after 10:00am to stand in line and register. As you can see here, Rattie is cunningly in costumer as a 'nerd' with his glasses!

HELP!We toured the sellers room to see what there was for sale - things you don't need, but must have! Along the say, we encountered many people in costume. Some were fun ones, but others were pretty scarey. Here, Rattie has a close call with Leatherneck!

Is he done yet?Here, Rattie is getting a little bored. We're waiting for see Kevin Sorbo! Kevin is originally from Minnesota, and attended college in our metro area. I'm a big fan of his, and he was fun to listen to as he answered questions and gave insider insights to his experiences.

Rattie asks to go to the bathroom!Later on we left to check out the film festival at the Fargo Theatre, part of Valleycon. We had fun watching a new low-budget independent (but well done) film of Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. It was produced, written, directed, and starred Mark Redfield, from Redfield Arts Studio.

We finally headed wearily home around 6pm, a full day of silliness and fun behind us. Tomorrow Rattie will rest up, before his trip home on Monday...

The ultimate escape

Razza swam from one island to another 400m away

The ultimate escape by an island-hopping rat
By Richard Macey
October 20, 2005 - 10:19AM

Razza was the Susie Maroney of the rodent world.
A wild rat, captured and then released on a deserted New Zealand island as part of an experiment, he amazed scientists by taking to the sea to escape.
No one knows why, but Razza swam 400 metres through treacherous open water to reach another island.
His feat, loosely billed as a record, has also alarmed the scientists, who say it shows that coastal islands cleared of rats can easily be reoccupied. Mick Clout, Professor of Conservation Ecology at the University of Auckland, said yesterday Razza was taken to Motuhoropapa, a flyspot east of Auckland, for a study on how a rat behaves when alone on an island.
"We assume most rat invasions begin with one or two rats coming ashore, probably from ships," Professor Clout said.
Researchers wanted to know how hard it would be to spot a single invader, and how difficult it would be to capture.
Razza had a small radio transmitter attached and was set free on the island. Scientists intended to recapture him within eight weeks, but Razza gave a new meaning to "rat cunning".
He avoided all the scientists' traps, and after 10 weeks his radio signal failed. "It would be fair to say that at that point we were worried," Professor Clout said. The Conservation Department was also worried, as the island had been cleared of rats.
Two weeks after the transmitter failed a woman reported finding rat droppings on Otata, a rat-free island 400 metres from Motuhoropapa. DNA tests confirmed they were Razza's.
"To our knowledge this is the first record of a rat swimming across open sea, and it's often quite rough water," Professor Clout said. "We assume he did it deliberately, but who knows what was in his mind?"
He speculated that Razza may have wanted female company.
A trap on Otata finally ended Razza's four months of freedom, and his life. His adventures are detailed in today's Nature.

Experiment ends in wild rat chase

Scientists got more than they bargained for when they released a single rat named Razza in an experiment into why rats are so hard to eradicate.
Razza avoided traps, escaped dogs, and ultimately swam a record distance from one uninhabited island to another.
Researchers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand had problems catching him even though they had fitted him with a radio transmitter.
He was finally killed by a trap 18 weeks after the experiment began.
The researchers released Razza to study "the problem of rats reinvading islands that have been cleared", author Mick Clout told the Associated Press news agency.
The research was reported in the scientific journal Nature.
Let loose on the uninhabited New Zealand island of Motuhoropapa, Razza ran free for 10 weeks before swimming 400m (1300ft) to a nearby island which was also deserted.
It is thought to be the longest swim across open water ever recorded for a rat.
Just lucky?
It then took the scientists another eight weeks to find and catch him once he arrived on Otata island.
"We were literally tearing our hair out at times trying to find this animal," Mr Clout said.
He said it was fortunate they had used a lone male rat in the experiment.
"If this had been a pregnant female rat it would have been a problem. It takes only one to establish a population."
Scientists have released a new male rat in a follow-up experiment to see if Razza was unusually clever or lucky.
"We want to check whether this was normal behaviour," Mr Clout said.

Cunning rat outsmarts scientists
Rodent eludes capture for 4 months
LONDON, England (Reuters) -- A rat released on a deserted island off New Zealand outsmarted scientists and evaded traps, baits and sniffer dogs before being captured four months later on a neighboring island, researchers have said.
Scientists from the University of Auckland in New Zealand released the Norway rat on the 23.5-acre island of Motuhoropapa to find out why rats are so difficult to eradicate.
They got more than they bargained for.
"Our findings confirm that eliminating a single invading rat is disproportionately difficult," James Russell and his colleagues said in a report in the science journal Nature.
Despite all their efforts, including fitting the rat with a radio collar, they couldn't catch the crafty creature.
After 10 weeks on the island the rodent decided it had had enough. It swam 400 meters, the longest distance recorded for a rat across open sea, to another rat-free island where it was eventually captured in a trap baited with penguin meat several weeks later.
The Norway rat, which is also called the brown or sewer rat, is a husky rodent that weighs about 11 ounces and has a long tail.
Invading rats on remote islands off the coast of New Zealand have been a recurring problem. Norway rats have invaded the uninhabited Noises Islands at least six times between 1981 and 2002.
"Our results may help in the design of conservation strategies to keep islands free of invasive rodents," Russell and team added.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Rattie goes to ValleyCon 31 - PREVIEW

Ahhhhh....Breathe in that fresh, crisp fall air! Yep, it's October, and autumn is in full swing here in North Dakota. And that can only mean one thing...VALLEYCON! As an old geek/nerd, I have been attending the fest for over half of its existence (it's the 31st year, this year...)

What does this have to do with Rattie? Well, for his final weekend visiting us, I thought it would be a lot of fun to take him with me and my friend Karen and I attend the convention. We'll show him around, introduce him to people, and take photos.

Today, I tried to convince my night-working boyfriend Christopher to take him to Bonanzaville to show him a fun time, but I think they ended up taking a nap together on the couch. Men!!

Stay tuned...there will be a report this weekend from the convention!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Rattie's Adventures in Fargo - Area Icons

This week, Rattie visited some area icons, including the Fargo Theatre.

He also crossed the new Main Avenue bridge, and had his picture taken at the central prominade, as seen in the picture above, on the right...

Friday, October 14, 2005

Rattie's Adventures in Fargo - DAY FOUR

Tonight, for a special treat, we had a bedtime story. We read "The Mouse & His Child", by Russell Hoban...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Rattie's Adventures in Fargo - DAY ONE

Today we decided to show Rattie some highlights of Fargo/Moorhead.

Here we see Rattie (where IS Rattie - can you spot him?) by the brand new Main Avenue bridge that connects Fargo and Moorhead, and goes over the Red River of the North.

Rattie bumped into Stuart Mouse, and they decided to hang out for awhile.

In the background, you can see a small part of the Red River. It's a very important part of our local culture.

Next, we went over to Viking Park, to visit the Hjemkmost Center.

Rattie poses here climbing a tree in front of the Stave church.

These are the magnificant hand-carved doors of the Stave itself; it is an exact replica of the Hopperstad Stave in Norway, built by a local craftsman who also did all the hand-carvings and paintings in the interior.

When all the sight-seeing was done, we all retired to the local coffee shop for a well-deserved libation.

Until tomorrow...

...Sweet Dreams, Rattie!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Sunday, October 02, 2005

"I Am Not An Animal!"

This week, the Sundance Channel will be premiering a BBC comedy called I Am Not An Animal. I haven't seen an episode yet, but it promises* to be a satirical look at both sides of the lab animal issue. I think it's worth a look...

The show has an official website here.

* Link includes video clips of the show, which includes a mouse character named Claire...


This is obviously not a picture of a mouse, or rat, or a hamster. But it is cute, you must admit.

OK, I'm a bit biased. This is one of my three grandsons. His name is Mu'min. His new kitty is named Blade. Eva (my daughter) told me that Meran* (my son-in-law, and Mu'min's father), named him that after seeing the vampire movie Blade. I still have to get Meran to explain to me what it is about the cat that makes him relate to vampires. Maybe it's those eyes?!

* Despite what the link says about Meran, he is home now. He got home in May, after two years working Iraq. His plans are in the air a bit, but he's scouting for business opportunities; in the meantime he's dabbling in some business with relatives...

"...a creature of great personal valour"

For the Mouse (Mus) prevails in the Latin.
For Edi-mus, bibi-mus, vivi-mus -- ore-mus.
For the Mouse is a creature of great personal valour.
For -- this is a true case --
Cat takes female mouse from the company of male --
male mouse will not depart,
but stands threatening and daring.
For this is as much as to challenge,
if you will let her go, I will engage you*,
as prodigious a creature as you are.
For the Mouse is of an hospitable disposition.

--- Christopher Smart, from Jubilate Agno

* I can vouch for this personally having observed mice standing up to my cat when he hunted, several times. This, I must make clear, was years ago, I was a child, and my cat lived in a rural setting. This was just how it was. He and I were friends, and I tagged along sometimes when he hunted. I did not interfere...