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Mice-llaneous Content

More mice and rats and squirrels, oh my! Winter observations, quotes from Alias, and medical research.

The snow melted—for now, at least, for it is supposed to snow tonight and through the weekend, leaving us with eight to twelve inches, or so say my students—and with the relatively warm weather the squirrel army, never truly far or hidden, was back out in force up and down Bascom Hill, running between trees and scrambling up them.

They do not just climb up trees, they climb up them in a spiral pattern. If one were looking down upon the trunk it would appear counter-clockwise; watching them head-on, they just go left behind the trunk and reappear to the right higher up. I rarely seem them go the other direction.

Occasionally they pause mid-climb, mid-trunk. And they don't move around, sniff, scour the area for visual clues, shrink back, or anything else. Just pause, as if someone with a VCR or DVD remote control were hiding in the bushes. Or perhaps it is Hiro Nakamura.

Imagine the power in a set of squirrel pause, fast-forward, and rewind buttons.

Taken from the Time Magazine Quote of the Day for Friday, Feb. 23, 2007:

“He's coming for his close-up.”

said as a rat came near the window of New York's Greenwich Village KFC/Taco bell, which was found infested February 23, 2007.

In season 4 of Alias, episode 18 (“Mirage”) there is a brief rat discussion as Jack hallucinates a man, Dr. Liddell, whom he relocated twenty years earlier and who is the only person who can help him. As Marshall later points out: “Wow, Mr. Bristow hallucinated the one man who can actually save his life. Even his delusions are lucid.”

Dr. Liddell: I've spent most of my career researching genetic mutations. Mostly in rats. I like rats. Much smarter than they're given credit for. These little buggers were exposed to the motherload of radiation. I was distracted one day—problems with the wife—and I accidentally gave them a lethal dose of an alkylating agent. But lo and behold, a few of my rats survived. Milo lived to the ripe old age of four.

Jack: That's something.

Dr. Liddell: Yes, but eighty-four percent of my rats were dead within a week. And given what they went through, death was a blessing.


Dr. Liddell Jack, as one friend to another, these drugs are nasty. If they don't cure you ...

Jack: ... I'll turn out like one of your rats.

This is a slight shift; after all, generally the concern on Alias is moles. The other shift is that season 4 is considerably funnier than the previous seasons, especially compared with the often dour and ernest season 3. This I have already mentioned.

As reported at E Canada Now, a “hormone associated with pregnancy may reverse MS.” To quote from the story itself: “The study, led by Drs. Samuel Weiss and V. Wee Yong of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, compared virgin and pregnant mice with MS-like lesions introduced by lysolecithin“ and “the pregnant mice developed smaller lesions and fewer damaged neurons, and showed signs of repaired neurons.” Notice that our lab rats are actually lab mice, I guess.

—February 23 2007