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GPF, Personal, Webcomics

Maybe it was Persephone’s third cousin twice removed…

June 26th, 2006 by Jeff | 1 Core Dump

slime_mold.jpg

I had an interesting little surprise a week or so ago. I had recently come back to North Carolina after a week on the new job and was spending a lot of my “free” time cleaning and repairing things in an effort to make the house more presentable and sellable. Unfortunately, this meant a lot of yard work, something I’m not known for being very good at. I’m fine when it comes to mowing the lawn (not that I’m an expert at it, nor that I necessarily enjoy it, but at least I’m competent), but just about anything else involving chlorophyll is foreign to me. However, I’ve recently successfully planted flowers, spread mulch, and cleared over a foot of clearance between our overgrown bushes and the front of the house. All in all, not bad for a gardening newbie.

One day, I stepped outside for a reason that now escapes me. As I was walking past the front planter along the walk to the front door, something bright yellow caught my eye. I looked down to find the interesting blob you see above. While I had a sneaking suspicion of what it was, I knew I couldn’t be certain. I rushed back inside, grabbed the camera, and snapped a few photos to take back to my biology teacher mother when I returned to West Virginia. Sure enough, she confirmed exactly what I suspected: it was an honest-to-gosh slime mold.

When one of your main characters is a slime mold, you tend to get a lot of slime mold related mail. I’ve had fans send me tons of unsolicited photos, hyperlinks, and amusing mold-related anecdotes over the years. Needless to say, when the news hit SlashDot back in February of a robot controlled by a slime mold, I was inundated. But I’ll have to admit that my actual personal slime mold experience is relatively small. Other than the above snapshot and a chance meeting on a hike during a recent vacation, my path has rarely crossed with any slimes of note.

Sadly, this chance meeting would not be repeated. By the following morning, the little mold had been baked thoroughly by the scorching NC summer sun and formed a crusty, hardened shell. When the shell broke, a fine black mist of spores rose into the air, carried away by the breeze. As far as I know, the mold never showed any signs of sapience, but I conveniently neglected to tell my Fred plush doll the news of the encounter, just in case it would have broken his heart… er, nucleus.

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