Sunday, November 13, 2011

Meloe yellow

Oops. Just over four minutes after taking a picture of an oil beetle at my usual spot above the river, I accidently stepped on it. At the time I thought that the exuded bright-yellow mass was liquid, but an examination of the photo revealed it to be eggs. Also visible in the image is the cantharidin-containing ochre (generally described as 'yellow') fluid exuding from the joints (detail above). Samuel Maunder's 1848 description of Meloe is here and a more modern treatment, here. I noticed my first oil beetle in the local, private cemetery three years ago. A large grassy section of this cemetery sports an extensive covering of ground-bee dwellings and the beetles have taken full advantage, being this fall every bit as bountiful as were the bees in the spring.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Scientific American, weakly

BoingBoing alerted me, last Friday, to the free accessing (this month only) of Scientific American weeklies from 28 August 1845 to 25 December 1909. A weeks-between lookup gives 3357 potential issues, but I think eight of those did not see publication. Of the remaining 3349 (that's four more than claimed by Scientific American), I managed to find 3246 complete, readable issues at the site, some hidden behind missing or misdirecting links.

I have been an aficionado (and eventual collector) of the magazine since discovering this issue near the end of 1967. Having a substantial, freely accessible pdf-archive of the old weeklies was, for me, a little like finding money on the street. I spent all day Saturday downloading, as a result of which I woke up Sunday morning with a debilitating lower-back issue (it became extremely painful to maintain an upright position) from which I did not recover until yesterday! I spent all of last night (until about 4:30 this morning, more carefully minding my posture) completing the heist.