Natuna Island’s Slow Loris

Sunda slow loris, refers to the Sunda Islands, is a strepsirrhine primate. Yeah, that’s right, strepsirrhine. The word ‘Loris’ is derived from the old Dutch ‘Loeris’ which means clown!

It is commonly known as malu-malu, meaning “shy” in Indonesian. I see you, little loris! It is sometimes called kuskus, because local people do not distinguish between the slow loris and cuscus, a group of Australasian possums. They say, “Possum, loris, who cares?” In Thailand, it is called ling lom, which translates as “wind monkey”. Wind monkey? Really?

When Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire defined the genus Nycticebus, he made the Sunda slow loris the type species. But, later, British zoologist Oldfield Thomas, said the type specimen should be the Bengal slow loris, damn it. Further confusion resulted when Boddaert’s Tardigradus coucang was routinely mistaken for Carl Linnaeus’ Lemur tardigradus. An easy mistake in poor light. The fact was that Lemur tardigradus was actually a slender loris. Mammalogist Witmer Stone finally cleared things up by getting the slender loris off its strict diet.

The Sunda slow loris has dark rings around its large eyes and a white nose with a whitish strip that extends to the forehead. The dark eye rings may be from looking out for predators all night.

One major distinguishing feature between all loris species is locomotion: the Sunda slow loris moves slowly through trees using all four limbs, quadrupedally, as it were, typically, with three limbs holding on to a branch. You can’t be too careful in the trees, you know. They have a special network of capillaries in their hands and feet which helps them cling to branches for hours, without their digits going numb. Pretty cool, huh?

They sometimes feed on molluscs, like the giant snail which moves even slower than the slow loris. During estrus, females make whistle calls when in visual contact with a male. They will sometimes also call out, “Hey, Big Boy, over here.”

The Natuna Island slow loris is an arboreal and nocturnal primate, resting by day in the forks of trees. They sleep in a ball in the branches but are known to spoon with others at night.

We now leave the slow loris as the sun sets off Big Natuna Island.

Alien Speaks Up

I want to correct a few things. We are tall and thin. We tried projecting ourselves but it came out like we are shorter than you. We’re not. We come from a planet with less gravity, so we are thin and tall. Stately, even. Anyway, we don’t like your gravity and don’t like to walk around on your planet. The atmosphere dries out our skin, too. That’s why we stay in our ships.

We’re not supposed to contact you but, of course, some of us have to bend the rules. There was some kidnapping and probing but it was not authorized. Sorry. There were reprimands and demotions.

Yes, we can make ships that fly real fast but that’s about it for advanced technology. We can’t really share it with you because you don’t have the right materials on your planet to duplicate it. And you go fast enough, really.

We just observe. That’s all we are allowed to do. It’s pretty boring, really. You know what really got us going? Paper towels. We never thought of it! We have a statue of your Guy in the Flannel Shirt on our planet now. And Wet Wipes are standard issue now. Another gem. Chip clips. I could go on. We want to pay you back but we got nothing. Cures for diseases? We forgot them a long time ago. We had something like cancer but we got rid of it with DNA manipulation. That opened a sack of worms, let me inform you. Was it worth it? We got bones that can snap like a pencil now.

This is not an official communication. I just wanted to get a few things off my thorax.

Another thing, did you make English hard just to annoy us? I’m assigned to English language. Thanks a sockfull! It is an enormous headache. The spelling! I won’t go into that. And finish your dam sayings! We puzzled over: “you can lead a horse to water” forever until we found out there was more to it. I mean, what the dickens?

Whenever it gets on me, I think “paper towels, paper towels, paper towels”.

And we don’t like your food. Ever hear aliens stole our food! Won’t happen. Except for popping boba. And we can’t duplicate it either!

We brought back swearing and sarcasm to our planet. They asked us what good is it? It makes you feel good when you’re assigned to a stupid planet for a really long time said Xthyg. Oops, demotion time. Like I care, he retorted.

Well, I’m saying too much. A river in Derche,

Alaska Adventure

Some may ask where Alaska is found. It’s above Canada and close to Russia. I know, that seems a strange place to put it. But it was part of Russia and we took it when they weren’t looking. Anchorage is in the south. It was still light at 11 PM in August and it was light again at 5 AM. Daylight in Michigan was 6:30 to 8:30 when I left. In June, it’s light for almost 22 hours.

A friend of mine was in Alaska. He’s from Michigan. too. We headed north for Fairbanks the next morning. We passed Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley) without seeing it for the fog. To get near it, you have to enter the surrounding park.It takes quite a while to get near it.

There was no shortage of mountains to look at on our trip as the fog cleared. We saw glaciers and old volcanoes as well. The scenery is actually breathtaking at times, especially when you round a turn at high speed! I couldn’t drive because I would have gone too slow but my friend charged ahead on the roadway.

There is a thing that happens there with the road caused by the permafrost melting in the summer. The road ripples in some places, so you go up and down in a short series of waves. Momentary seasickness is the result.

Alaskans are fierce freedom lovers and take offence at signs they don’t like. They show this by shooting the signs. Many signs have bullet holes like the ones below. The moose one was just asking for it, though.

We saw moose and mountain goats as we went along. Your eyes get exhausted seeing so much beauty. After checking in to a great bed and breakfast, we drove out to a hot springs spot. They also had a little ice museum you could be guided through.

Be awestruck by the glorious sculptures in the Aurora Ice Museum – open year round. We will then enjoy a guided tour through the Aurora Ice Museum which was built with over 1.000 tons of ice and snow and kept year round at a temperature of 25F (-7C)

                                We were not awestruck.

There was a large ice statue of a naked lady that was inspiring. And an ice bar with a few ice stools where you could buy an expensive ice martini in a take-home ice martini cup. How you would keep it cold while taking it home was beyond me. They offered a tiny room where you could stay overnight for an outrageous price paid in cold cash.

The outdoor mineral water hot spring was great. It is crowded in the winter but there were not that many people when we went. But then there were no northern lights to be seen as you bobbed in the warm water. As in Norway, I was informed that the northern lights are closed in the summer. Sigh.

We cruised back to Fairbanks to our amazing hostel. It had an indoor garden that you passed going to your room. We went out to eat but found the best places crowded with over an hour wait and ended up at a sushi bar. We didn’t care. We were in the middle of Alaska!

I was really tired at 11 and turned on the air-conditioner over my bed and fell dead asleep. The temperature setting was low and I tried to adjust it during the night to no avail. I managed to turn the fan down and burrowed under the covers. My friend asked at a sumptuous breakfast in the dining room, why I didn’t turn the light on. Had I known you were awake, I would have, I said. We were drinking hot coffee (in Alaska) so it didn’t matter a bit.

We took a different route back to Anchorage and I was on my own since my friend had someone coming in to go on a fishing expedition somewhere. Again, the scenery was fantastic all eight hours of our trip back. I busied myself in Anchorage going to various places like a coffee shop or beer brewery. The brewery had enormous tanks with an ambitious business plan.

The population is so low in the city that you feel like everyone left town for some reason. The people in the shops are glad to see you. They chat with you and explain everything because they haven’t seen anyone for an hour or so. The barista brought the device for a pour-over to my table and created a wonderful coffee I thought was the best I’d ever had. Of course, I was in Alaska!

This Mother moose gave birth to twin babies only weeks earlier.

I met people whose family had been homesteaders and whose grandfather had carved out some acres down a dirt road years ago. It was now parkland all around but he was grandfathered in so to speak. The woman said she hated to have to shoot bears that insisted the land was still theirs. She had a pistol on her hip at the time.


Alaska is our 51st or 52nd state. I’m not sure which. It was taken from the Russians when they weren’t looking in 1492. Anyway, you can’t get there from here. Well, that’s not quite true.

My friend Joe wanted to drive there. He looked at the map and saw Canada inbetween. He called this Canada place and asked if he could go through it. They said yes. Now he should have got this in writing because when he tried to go through this Canada place, the border guard said no. It turns out Canada has given these guys the last word on this. Joe complained that he was told something different when he called Canada on the phone. Tough tomatoes said the guard in his splendid uniform. You and Canada are not to be.


It was sad but true. Joe had this master plan to drive through Canada with a SUV he bought and sell it in Alaska. Now he was stuck in Seattle Wash with this large, black machine. Did he give up? No.


He checked and found that a barge could take the vehicle but not him to Alaska. He paid a steep price for this and flew to Alaska to await his machine. It arrived and off he went to explore The Land Up Under as Alaska is called by the natives. He went to Homer. He went to Fairbanks. He drove up and down the state. The sun stayed up all night as it was summer. The night lasts just two hours in June. That is not enough time to see the Northern Lights or the Aroarra Boringalice, as the natives call them. He did not see them.


His friend, me, heard of his adventures in the Canada Wilderbeast. He was inspired and aghast. Rather, he was aghast and then inspired. If Joe can’t do it, so can’t I, he said. So, he avoided Canada, The Land Inbetween, and flew to Alaska. He also traversed the Lost Continent of Alaska. From Fairbanks to Anchorage on dogsled and kayak. Filled with both vim and vigor, he returned to his native state of Inertia or Michigan as the natives call it.


Several things were learned by he. If an Alaskan does not like a sign, he will shoot that sign with a gun. The population is low so it seems like most everybody left town for the weekend or something. The Northern Lights are closed in the summer and only open in the Winter! The nerve, I say.


There are several types of bears in Alaska. There are the ones that may eat you and the other ones. I was unable to distinguish between the two myself and learned the best thing to do is to play dead. If the bear is a light brown color and slobbering a lot, it really doesn’t matter what you do. You can call it names, slap it on the nose, spray a spray that should drive it away. It really doesn’t matter. I did not encounter one of these so you are reading this account now.


One more thing, sometimes the bear also plays dead next to you and waits a few hours to see if you return to life. This can ruin your nerves. Some visitors to Alaska have been reported to have a continued look of surprise and fear etched in their visage, forever marking them as one who faced a grizzly bear and lived to tattle the tale.


My friend Joe did not sell his car as hoped. He left it there. But a friend brought it back to him in the land of Michigan. He is talking of going to Canada as soon as they agree to let him in.


Minot Stave Church

This is a replica of a Gol Stave Church that is located in Bygdoy Park in Oslo, Norway. The original was built around 1250 and was moved to Olso about 100 years ago. The project began in October, 1999 and the church was opened on October, 2001.

This building is 60-feet tall and 45-feet wide is a memorial to the immigrants who came from Scandinavia to make new homes in North America. Inside the church, the corner posts are accentuated, and heavier and more richly decorated than the other structural elements.

The posts “represent the four gospels whose teachings are the supporting foundation of all Christianity” The beams upon which the columns rest “signify God’s apostles, the foundation of all Christianity.” The floor boards represent “the humble men who bow in honour; and the more they are exposed to the trampling feet of the congregation, the more support they provide.” The roof surface which protects the church from snow and inclement weather “represents the men whose prayers protect us from temptation.

All quoted from a sermon given in the thirteenth century.

The church was put together without nails like a puzzle. It is a place where weddings and funerals are often held. A yearly festival called Norsk Høstfest is held annually in the fall in North Dakota in Minot. This festival has been held for over 40 years and has become North America’s largest Scandinavian festival with tens of thousands attending.

Usaga Jima

It’s really called Okunoshima but Usaga Jima describes it much better: Rabbit Island. It’s near Japan, as you might have guessed.

It is home to hundreds of wild rabbits but that doesn’t really describe it. The Japanese who go there get a great deal of satisfaction from the rabbits.

Compare the Japanese to other visitors.

Not quite the same, huh?

You know, Japan isn’t full of small animals like some other places. So this is a zoo you can enter and the rabbits are surprisingly tame.

Some think they are descendants of test rabbits used in during WWII when the Japanese army was secretly producing poison gas there. Okunoshima was super secret and they even took the island off their maps. Rabbits were brought to the island in order to test the effects of the poison.

Now rabbits have the run of the place. And tourists get involved.

But are they the relatives of the test rabbits? Maybe, maybe not. Some prefer the story of schoolchildren bringing some rabbits to the island in 1971. Anyway, there are thousands now. And predators are not allowed.

The island is reached by ferry and is quite popular with tourists who can play golf, camp and spend time on the beaches.

The more serious minded can tour the former poison gas facilities or see the ruins of military buildings on the island.

Most apartments in Japan do not allow pets so this might be a way to hang out with small animals. You can buy food for the rabbits on the island.

Do you think this is better than a Museum of Poison Gas? I know I do.


Russian Volcanoes

Volcanoes! Lots of volcanoes! You can ski down some. You can climb down into a crater and examine a green acid lake. You can warm your toes on a toasty beach on a chilly day or swim in a warm clear lake on an icy day. These are the volcanoes of the Russia Far East in Kamchatka.


This mile high volcano was really active in 1991. But now you can ski down it.



The beautiful waterfall is well worth seeing but is a giant icicle in the winter.



Maybe it’s the biggest in the world at 16,000 ft. It is fantastic with cracked sides and lava streams and the top is covered with ice. The eruption of 1978 filled the crater with lava. Strong eruptions shook it again in 1993 but it’s much tamer now.



This was really going nuts all through 1975 raising ash columns up to 9 miles high. 3 billion tons of lava spread for 3 miles. Observers dodged volcano bombs, large hunks of flying hot rock that explode on impact, as they tried to keep their notebooks from catching fire. It finally quieted down leaving an amazing turquoise lake.



Since this one is only 40 miles from the city, you can go and look down into the caldera and see this green lake.



One part has a hot, sulfurous lake. But below you can see Lake Dalnee, full of fresh, pure water.



Look down 650 feet to it’s green, warm, opaque lake full of sulfuric and hydrochloric acids. Some brave the descent to stand on its flaky black beach and watch the emerald, poisonous waves. Stay too long and you may start coughing.



This one ended the last millennium with two years of explosions, kicking up ash and tossing exploding rocks. Karymskoe lake, 4 miles away from the volcano, had giant waves of boiling water. It turned Lake Karymskoe from an ultrafresh water body in to the world’s biggest natural tank of acid water.



The thermal springs of Lake Shtubelya form its “Hot beach” with it’s warmed sand. The river Talaya, flowing out of caldera, forms a waterfall.



These “steamy lands” crack, smack, whistle, puff and pant as though they are alive. Lake Bannoyeis stays hot all winter with a bottom of molten sulfur.

See several Kamchatka volcanoes erupting in news video

Evenks ride reindeer to work

Evenks live in the evergreen forest of the mountains of Siberia.


They had light conical tents, excellent skis, and light clothing. They were very mobile. And reindeer need to move around a lot to find their food.


The Evenks tamed reindeer and rode them using special saddles.They did not eat their domesticated reindeer but they did hunt and eat wild reindeer.


Evenks kept warm with a loincloth of soft reindeer skin around their hips, along with leggings and long supple thigh-high boots. They covered all this with a deerskin coat.


Evenki had some facial tattooing.


Evenki, when hunting wild deer, attracted them by making sounds with an instrument, sounding like a deer.


Evenks relied on shamans to protect thems. The shaman looked mysterious with his long uncombed hair in his ceremonial coat. His face concealed with a painted mask, he beat his reindeer-skin covered charmed tambourine.


An Evenk mother would ask Mother Earth for permission to put up her tent. She would make a fire and brew some tea. She would then turn to her baby hanging up in its wooden baby seat. The child is dressed in a suit made from soft rabbit fur. She unties a flap to change the disposable diaper made from moss. She then gives the baby some reindeer milk and mash.


The tent living space was tiny and was very neatly and carefully arranged. They all bedded down in sleeping bags heads to outside and feet nearest the fire.


Wooden store houses were built on stilts and anyone passing by could take something out of someone else’s store house, but they were expected to leave something in return.


More about the reindeer


Sami – Reindeer People of Europe

The Sami people live where the sun never sets in summer and stays below the horizon in winter.


They covered the northern two-thirds of Scandinavia. Their life was herding reindeer.


The Sami are the only people to be split by four different countries, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.


The Sámi are also known as Lapps.


Though many Sami are Christian, in the past, the shaman connected them to the spirit world with his drum and magic.



Reindeer herding demands a nomadic lifestyle because the reindeer graze the snow-covered lichen fields quickly and must move on to find more food. Sami lived in tents or turf huts as they migrated with their herds.

Now, the remaining herders travel with their reindeer while their families live in permanent modern housing.


The Sami sing to the reindeer.


Pregnant women have learned not to have their babies in the middle of the hunting season because the only local midwife is away hunting.


Never ask a reindeer owner about how many reindeer he’s got.