More Junkmail from Bob!

Wednesday, August 1, 2001
Important Stuff.

For the web version, go to
That's a good idea because there are a bunch of pictures this time.

'Tis the season for Chiggers!

It's those dern chiggers are personally responsible for those itchy spots on my ankles. That is, if the larva of a mite can be personally responsible for anything. A chigger is the larva stage of a harvest mite. It's 7 or 8 hundredths of an inch long, or around .2 mm long. They're usually light red or orange. The adult harvest mite is a 6 or 8 times bigger than the larva, and is usually bright red. The adults don't bite, and neither do the nymphs.

Chiggers mount their insidious attacks on people, turtles, birds, rodents, and probably small dinosaurs if they could find any. They are not particular.

Contrary to stories I've heard, chiggers don't burrow into your skin. They don't lay eggs in your skin. They just dig a little hole in your skin and spit in it. The digestive juices make the itchy spot, and they also make a hard tube that the chigger can suck partially digested skin through. It's pretty sick sounding, but that's what happens for about 4 days when those suckers start sucking on your ankles. When he's full he drops off and transforms himself into a nymph, growing a couple of extra legs in the process, and eventually he grows up into an adult chigger. To avoid persecution by the gender police, I should point out that the female chiggers act the same way. In fact, they might not even decide whether to be male or female until they've filled up and dropped off of you.

When a chigger is climbing around on you, it takes a few hours for him to get settled and start dinner. After you've been out frolicking in the summer greenery, you can scrub yourself and get rid of most of the chiggers before they latch on. You can also scrub them off sometimes after they've started dinner, but there will still be an itchy spot for a few days.

One sure way to avoid chiggers is to go here:


That's the top of Mount McKinley (or Denali, if you prefer, but the USGS still calls it McKinley) this morning.

Chigger info:

Code Red?

A lot of people have been asking me about the Code Red worm. That's understandable, considering the press it's been getting. CNN had a pole, asking people if they have done anything to protect themselves against the Code Red worm. That's not understandable -- that's stupid. Why?

The Code Red worm only works on Microsoft's Internet Information Server. If you're not running a web server, you don't need to worry about protecting yourself from it. If you do run IIS 4.0 or 5.0, all you need to do is install this patch:

I have been getting some emails with the Sircam worm in them. This is pretty funny, because the only way you can get (and send out) this worm is to double click (or press enter) on an .exe email attachment. You should not do that unless you're sure what you're clicking on.

In other virus news, a sub-brilliant congressman (I forgot which one, there are so many in that category) decided we need a law sending kids to jail if they deface a school's web site. I consider that about as serious as writing on a desk. In fact, it's less serious because it's easier to fix. I think people shouldn't pass laws they don't understand. Maybe we'd have a lot fewer laws then. If a school doesn't want its web sites defaced, it should make them secure. It's not very hard.

Oily Stem Cells

I usually try to avoid "hot" issues in Junkmail, since I usually disagree with most people I know, but I feel like getting some people riled up tonight.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to ban medical research using Stem Cells. I haven't read the details, but I heard this on the radio. I went to to see what was going on. I did a search on "stem cell" and got this message:

"An error has occurred. Please enter request again."

Underneath that message, a proud banner: "Powered by Sliccware. Fast, flexible search engines."

Maybe they shouldn't advertise there, ya think?

At any rate, I'll limit my ranting and raving on this issue since I'm not sure about the moral implications of using human embryos for medical research. However, one thing that is not arguable is that there is medical research going on in the world using stem cells (mostly Britain and Japan), and some top researchers in the U.S. are moving to Europe where they have "scientific freedom." Another thing that is very likely is that someone you know will benefit a lot from the applications of this research. I think the U.S. may lose its medical leadership if we keep doing things like this. It may be the morally right decision, or we may be Luddites. Either way, I think a lot of people have not considered the implications of stopping stem cell research in the U.S.

While I'm making people mad, I better go into the ANWR argument since I'm Alaska today. I vote against the drilling in the Arctic petroleum reserve. I think they can do the drilling without disrupting the environment too much, but I'd prefer to leave the oil in the ground until we really have to have it. We should use it for some additional strategic reserve. Then when and if we REALLY need it, more people will be for developing the arctic oil field.

If we need to cut back on oil usage, we could raise the price of gasoline. Naw... that makes too much sense.

Pictures of Today!

Lotsa pictures today. Here are some wild Animals from the Pryor Creek Nature Trail.

Poison ivy:


These two are Eastern Tiger Swallowtails:

       Img_0672.jpg     Img_0676.jpg

So is this, believe it or not:


In a flower patch on the Pryor Creek Nature Trail there were a bunch of these butterflies:


They move fast and don't sit still when they eat. I've heard stories of people who are that way. This is a pipevine swallowtail.

Then I found one who was sitting still and took her picture. When I got home and looked at the pictures, I figured out they were different kinds of butterflies. I read up on it, and there are two kinds of female eastern swallowtails -- black and yellow. I think it's pretty weird for there to be two forms of the same sex of the same butterfly. This is unquestionably the result of unbridled stem cell research on cloned butterfly embryos.


       Img_0721.jpg      Img_0724.jpg

A dragon:


Here is a nocturnal flier, from Florida:


It's the space shuttle, STS 104. (I didn't take that picture.) If you want to see the space station fly over, check out this link Jamie Don sent me:

Last week Cathy and I flew the aircam to Oshkosh. It's the biggest fly-in / airshow in the U.S. Here's a plane we flew over on the way up there:


Here are some fliers from Oshkosh.

The C-117:

       Img_0777.jpg       Img_0778.jpg

Some planes headed down:


The first pressurized airliner:


Tonight I'm in Anchorage, so you get some Alaska pictures:

Near Sitka:


Mount McKinley, from 23,000 feet:

       Img_0961.jpg       Img_0964.jpg

An Alaska flier:


An Alaska flower:


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