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February 16th, 2006

seventh speaker

In the three hours that I've been at the university's main library the ground has received a light coating of snow without my even realizing it. It was quite the surprise to glance through a nearby window to the sight of so much white outside - and the school's intramural lacrosse team practicing as well.

Last night I caught another guest speaker, who is actually my biological anthropology teacher. The lecture was on adaptive behavior in capuchin monkeys, and in particular their unique habit of washing themselves. In most cases a group of capuchins will look out for piper leaves, which they gather together and chew into a gooey paste. This paste is then rubbed all over their bodies for either therapeutic purposes, to remove bacteria and pathogens, or possibly both. Capuchins have also been observed using millipede species for the same cleaning purposes. A group of capuchins in eastern Ecuador has been cohabiting with humans in a local town for the past 35 years (the only such occurance recorded in the Americas), and over the summer my instructor - a Ph.D student at the university - travelled through the town and found the capuchins out in the rain, washing themselves with soap. After talking with the town's residents he found that the monkeys have a habit of running into stores to gather (or, from a human perspective, "steal") soap, and in most every instance they'll target soap over other products like food during their forays indoors.

Nobody knows why the capuchins do it, but it's suspected that further research might explain the behavior and eventually show evolutionary connections to our own custom of washing as often as we do.

ystävänpäivä

Tuesday night saw a Valentine's Day dinner involving just Violet, Wendy, and myself. In fact, after our food had been served the other group of people at the restaurant finished and left - leaving us as the only customers in the building. Once again our service was slow, and during a conversation of what kind of job I should have - don't ask me why they thought this was an interesting topic - Wendy told me that I should go and get us more hot tea. She joked about how, if I did a good job, she would hire me after we had both graduated - so I went up to the front counter and waited until one of the owners came out to fill the pot up with more boiling water. After filling up everyone's cups Wendy said "thank you", but when I tried to give her a "you're welcome" in reply she stopped me and pointed out how I should be the one thanking her for "giving me work". And she wonders why I tease her about being so mean.

Also, I have no idea where it came from, but I have a large bruise on the inside of my right arm that must be the size of a dollar bill. The only thing that came to mind was the possibility that Violet has been beating me up during the middle of the night, but that isn't a very serious theory. When I asked Yuka how she had spent her Valentine's Day she told me that she hadn't done anything at all, and after hearing about my gift of flowers to both Violet (who she has a class with this semester) and Wendy she made a comment of how no one had bought any for her. It isn't too long before White Day, so maybe she'll get a surprise on 14 March ...