Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Vacation: Anya's baby and Aquarium

Tuesday, October 12: met Lena in downtown and we went to see Anya and Mark and their baby. We wanted to buy some wine and Chinese food, but upon our arrival in Quincy noticed that everything was closed. Well, what else do you expect from a town where they ban the sales of non-alcoholoc beer to under 21-year-olds? We crossed the subway tracks to another, livelier part of Quincy, and found what we needed.

Erik (the baby) looks very much like Churchill, even more so than most babies. His eyes are very well-focused, and usually focused on Anya's breasts. He is somewhat furry, but they say that happens. He also has huge balls, but Mark says that they told him not to get excited about it in the baby class: all male babies have huge balls.

Lena looks cheerful and happy in spite of being somewhat overworked. Apparently marketing works out a lot better for her than software engineering. We talked about our careers and found out that Lena did not like software engineering precisely for the same reasons why I like it: having to pay attention to a lot of small details, and working alone for the most part.

Wednesday, Octover 13: went to the Aquarium to look at the critters. They have a lot jellyfish now. I don't know if it's just a temrorary thing, but they are cute and look rather exotic in comparison to ones I'd seen live. The rest of the critters were as usual: seals, huge turtles, sharks, penguins, etc. They let you touch starfishes, which is nice, but not half as nice as some other aquarium I'd been to (either in Blankenberge or in Scheveningen) that lets you touch rays. Rays are wonderfully soft to the touch and apparently like to be touched, or at least come for more much like friendly cats.

Said hi to the huge jewfish they have there. Three years ago the American Fisheries Society has decided to rename the jewfish, because somebody found it offensive. I assume that somebody was not a jewfish him/herself, although I can imagine a fish not wanting to be called a jewfish since this name conjures the image of gefilte fish in many people. We were all waiting with great interest whether they rename jewfish into goyfish, but they called it goliath grouper.

While in Aquarium I started thinking: what determines what people find cute? A lot of sociobiological stuff is being said about people finding other people cute, but what about animals? Is there some biological and/or social reason why people find some animals cute and some not, and why these preferences overlap quite a lot? And why are all the animal places always full of children? Do children like to see animals more than adults? If so, why? Do adults perceive children as likely to like to see the animals? Is this universal, at least in all cultures that have zoos?

No comments: