December 5th, 2011

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Australia Day Fourteen: Taxonomy and Taxidermy, but no Taxis

The Australian Museum gets a bad rap in my guidebook and it does not deserve it one bit. T.R. and I went with the expectation that it was going to be something like the African Hall at the Academy of Sciences—old-fashioned, a little cheesy, and charming. I am here to report that there was only one diorama, of sea birds, kept as a relic of historical museum displays.

Not that there were not plenty of stuffed animals. We saw lions and a bobcat and a koala and about a zillion birds (Teddy Roosevelt, taxidermist, would have approved!). The birds, in particular, were arranged by type, kind of like a giant field guide.

There was an exhibit on dinosaurs. I have seen a lot of dinosaur exhibits, so it takes a lot to impress me. This one had mostly casts of the big stuff, but some cool actual fossils of Australian specimens and a wide variety of other fossils. I’d show you my pictures, but I’m saving them…

…for the skeleton exhibit! A whole room full of skeletons! An Asian elephant! A whale! Teeny little mice! Creepy flying foxes! Looking at this skeleton of a yellow mongoose, I began to wonder if it was still a yellow mongoose now that all the yellow parts were gone and it was the same color as every other skeleton in the collection:



This snake and turtle were so sculptural I had to take their picture:



If the botanical garden is a flower zoo, I have now also visited the rock zoo. I took lots and lots of photos of interesting rocks, but I’ve limited myself to two to show. This first one is silver on something (it made a better picture without the label, so, geologists and mineralogists, you can feel extra educated right now):



This second one looked like a shell full of roe:



There was an extensive exhibit on the aboriginal peoples and their culture. Much of their history since the advent of Europeans has been tragic and awful. There are still lots of problems, but I was impressed by the fact that the government issued a blanket apology to the people and that land rights are something to discuss. I wish my government would do the same for the indigenous people of the United States. It is about time that we took responsibility for the evils we inflicted on the people already present while we built our country. I know. It won’t happen. But I can hope.

Finally, T.R. and I ended up in an area with Australian evolutionary developments. We saw the sadly extinct Tasmanian tiger, the marsupial lion, and this giant wombat:



Don’t piss off the wombats!
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Australia Day Fifteen: In which we colonize the couch

I did not take any photos today. This is a fossil from yesterday, just so I have something here to relieve the boredom of my prose:



T. and I both woke up lazy this morning. We did validate our general usefulness by going to the store, although we were far more motivated by lack of Coke than by any high-minded ideas of keeping the home running smoothly or anything.

It appears that the new book supply that we acquired the other day is going to be hopelessly inadequate for T.R. Since yesterday, he has read two books and is currently reading his third.

For the record, I am reading what he finishes. Today I read Walter Moers’s book A Wild Ride Through the Night and the second in the Skulduggery Pleasant series. T. read the Walter Moers before we went shopping for new books. He has read both the second and third Skulduggery books and is currently engaged in the most recent Septimus Heap book. So far, thumbs up all round and I am reliably informed that at long last the annoying bolding of words in Septimus Heap has abated; I will confirm with my own eyes later.

For variety, we both drew for a while, T. completing a winged demon riding on a wolf and I producing a modified contour drawing of my hand and another of an onion. Next I am supposed to do a tree or plant, which is not as easy as it might be since it the rain is back. Maybe tomorrow?

Brent has an outing this evening with alums from business school. T. and I are going out for pizza.