Saturday, 29 October 2011

By on October 29th, 2011 in Barbara, biology, dogs, writing

10:04 – Barbara continues to improve. She’s even taking Colin for short walks down the block and yesterday while I wasn’t looking she rolled the trash cart back down the driveway. She goes to the doctor next week for a follow-up visit, and I suspect he’ll approve her to drive again and return to work. She’s going stir-crazy here. Of course, Colin is going to be a problem because he’s now used to having her home all day every day.

Yesterday I finished up the group of lab sessions on microorganisms and started on a group of lab sessions on genetics. Right now, I’m working on a lab about Mendelian traits and inheritance. There are actually relatively few pure Mendelian traits in humans, but one of them is a classic. The ability to taste phenylthiocarbamide.

Fortunately, I also did a self-sanity check. Beginning biology students often make the false assumption that dominant and recessive Mendelian traits correlate to the percentages of individuals in a population that exhibit the dominant and recessive phenotypes. In other words, a high percentage of individuals exhibit the dominant phenotype and a much small percentage the recessive phenotype. A moment’s thought establishes that’s not the case, at least for anyone who’s aware that Huntington’s disease is a dominant Mendelian trait.

But I made that exact false assumption with regard to Colin and his prick ears, assuming that floppy ears in dogs are Mendelian dominant and prick ears recessive. In fact, floppy ears are a recessive Mendelian trait. The fact that probably only one in ten thousand Border Collies has prick ears doesn’t indicate that prick ears are recessive, but merely that Border Collie breeders have selectively bred a population of Border Collies that are almost entirely recessive with respect to ear conformation. (Not that they were selecting for ear type specifically, but sometimes something you don’t care about one way or the other is part of the package that you’re breeding for.)

Now the only problem is that I don’t remember either Colin’s mother or father having prick ears. Hmmm.

10:42 – Duncan was a giant among Border Collies, standing about 4″ (10 cm) taller than other large males and weighing half again as much despite the fact that there was no fat on him. When Duncan was two or three years old, we took him to a Carolina Border Collie Rescue event held at a farm owned by one of the volunteers. There was a large open field and a herd of about 100 Border Collies running around in it. We could pick out Duncan instantly because he towered above all of the other BCs, except one who was even larger than he was. (Despite the fact that Duncan was registered purebred, we always suspected that he might have some English Shepherd in his bloodlines.)

Barbara just got out a photo of Duncan standing on our front porch that showed the line of his back was at the line of mortar above the seventh row of bricks. She then took Colin out on the front porch while I stood back to see the level of his back relative to the bricks. At eight months old, Colin is already taller than Duncan was as an adult. He’s going to be a very big boy.

2 Comments and discussion on "Saturday, 29 October 2011"

  1. Chuck Waggoner says:

    Here is one of the best reasons we do not need a very few great big corporations owning hundreds of radio stations across the country. When they lay off several people at every station all at once, it amounts to hundreds and hundreds of people. Just in time for the holidays, too! Clear Channel refuses to publish names, but All Access has collected many of them from spies; maybe there is someone here that you have heard at a station near you:

    Business analysts say Clear Channel has to do this to avoid bankruptcy, — but yet this broke corporation is actively trying to buy the Citadel group of hundreds more stations. Who gives these people money to do this stuff? Goldman-Sachs? Hope that buyout does not happen, because Tiny Town has a Citadel station (how did that happen?) and laying off a few people would mean everyone at the station would lose their job.

    What I wonder is why any corporation bothers to come up with that PR crap they use to explain their actions? ANYONE who reads it knows it is stuff written by a lackey that belongs in the toilet. Just say it like it is:

    The genius managers at the top of our corporation believe they will make many more millions if we fire at least several hundred people — people you have come to listen to on the radio every day. And guess what? They decided that firing them right now — just before the holidays — is the perfect time to do it! Happy holidays! Oh, don’t forget to tune us in tomorrow when the morning show hosts will no longer be there, — but we’ll keep the iPod on shuffle for you. Good luck with the traffic; we won’t be having those reports anymore. And don’t worry, there will still be 6 minutes of commercials for every 3 minutes of songs. The geniuses at the top KNOW you’ll like that! Besides, our competition plays 8 minutes of commercials for every 3 minutes of songs — so keep listening to us! We’re the best!

  2. OFD says:

    Or simply this: “We have the power to make ourselves the most money we can as quickly as possible and no matter the human cost to anyone else, and we intend to exercise it forthwith with no holds barred.”

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