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Hot steamy Gallic passion leads to distraction and death in the bivalve world:

Young French oysters have fallen prey to a killer virus because they have used up too much energy developing their sex organs, scientists believe.

An expert team has been trying to find out why oysters have been decimated in all but one of France’s coastal beds, dealing a severe blow to the industry.

A warm winter and wet spring left the young oysters especially vulnerable to Oyster Herpesvirus type 1, they say.

They matured too fast, feeding on abundant plankton, the scientists say.

The destruction of oysters aged 12 to 18 months ranges from 40% to 100% in all the French oyster beds except for one area at Arcachon in the south-west.

An expert from the Ifremer institute, Tristan Renault, told the French news agency AFP that “the animal has been using up a lot of energy developing its genitalia and using a lot less to defend itself”.

Of course, these are French oysters, so I don’t suppose this should come as any surprise. After all, it’s not as if they had a particularly strong defensive system to begin with.

Jean Oyster: Ah, ma chere! Ah am so sated weeeth food and consumed by thoughts of amor por vous zat I can no longer conseeeder even of mah own safety!

Marie Oyster: Ah, Jean! Eet is all the same por nous. Embrace moi, you master of my tidal bed!

Herpesvirus Type 1: Achtung! Das ist eine Kriegsviruskommadoblitzen! Der Oystershnoggen ist Verboten und Kaput! Rasch, Schnell!!

Jean & Marie: Merde!

According to several sources, today is the Feast Day of Saint Sithney.

The story goes that God asked Sithney to be the patron saint of girls seeking husbands, but Sithney said he would rather be the patron saint of mad dogs and get some rest.

(Supposedly, water from his well will cure rabid dogs and he is also the patron of people who fear water. There is St. Sithney parish down in Cornwall somewhere as well.)

I dunno if this is legitimate or not, but I think it’s pretty durn amusing. And I’ll keep it in mind when I see the Mothe’s fox-terrier when we arrive for vac this weekend. He’s not mad, but he is crazy.

This morning the local classical station played Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov’s “Procession of the Sardar”, the final movement of his Caucasian Sketches No. 1.  Yes,  for those of you who know it, the piece is a fair example of a “pops” favorite – pleasant to listen to but pretty light, but I enjoy it nonetheless.

As is so often the case when I hear the piece, I found myself wondering, “Just what the heck is a Sardar?”  Well, a quick bit of research reveals that while the term these days is most relevant to Indian Sikhs, way back when it was a description of a feudal lord applicable all over southern Asia, from western Persia to all points east.  The music reflects this exoticism nicely.

I have to confess that I have a weakness for this sort of thing.  Indeed, I readily listen to anything suggestive of the Turk, the Tatar, the Moor, the shadow of the Pyramids or the sands of Araby.  I’m certainly not the only one who feels this way, for composers have been inserting African and Asia themes and ideas into Western Musick for ever. Of course, I understand that this is in some sense simply a form of romanticism, the interest in and idealization of whatever lies over the horizon, but there again, this is a strain of Western Culchah stretching all the way back to Alexander the Great.

I suppose this is the difference explaining the fact that I can sit all the way through the endless repetitions of the theme in Lawrence of Arabia without a murmur and, indeed, even with enjoyment, while I am ready to stab my own eardrums with a pair of scissors after the first two minutes of “Lara’s Theme” from Dr. Zhivago.

Yes, this afternoon Your Host and his family made our first visit to Nationals’ Park, there to see our Nats beat Cincinnati 4-2 in the third game of their series, thereby sweeping the Reds and extending the Nats’ winning streak for the month of August to 3-0.  Not too shabby, especially after the dismal July we just finished.

When I say “there to see our Nats beat Cincinnati,” I, of course, am generalizing pretty freely.  Only the eldest gel and I sat through the whole game and could be said to have paid close attention.  My darling wife and the other two gels decided to take a tour of the stadium fairly early in the game (which tour wound up lasting at least two innings).  Later, after the Presidents’ Race in the 4th Inning (Let Teddy Win! and if you don’t know what that means, go here), they scurried off to get their pics taken with Abe, Ol’ George, Tom and Teddy.  And finally, during the 8th Inning, they ditched us in order to get in line to run the bases after the game was over.

The eldest gel and I, on the other hand, endured a blistering (albeit dry) sunbath in the lower box halfway down the right field line and thoroughly enjoyed watching our Nats play as if they meant it and loved it.

As for the new stadium itself, I don’t have that much to say.  Certainly there is that intimacy that one looks for in a ballpark – it appeared from our strolls about that one could see reasonably well from just about anywhere and it was certainly better than the old RKF days.  On the other hand, well frankly there was no real flair to the place, nothing that really stood out architecturally.  Eh, so long as we can enjoy the game, I suppose I don’t really mind that much.

Oh, btw, the pic above was taken with our digital camera. I also snapped a couple on my brand new (R) cell phone, but can’t figure out how to translate them from it to, well, wherever.  What does one do? What is this “bluetooth” of which the kids seem to speak so much?


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August 2008