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    by Nikko Lee

    A closeted black belt comes to terms with his bisexuality when he takes an openly gay student as his new sparring partner.

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    Wolf Creek: Gay Werewolf Romance
    by Nikko Lee, Digital Fiction

    Life as a gay omega werewolf is no fairytale.

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    NECRONOMICUM #2 (NECRONOMICUM: The Magazine of Weird Erotica)
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    People Eating People: A Cannibal Anthology
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    Between Love and Lust
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9.2 miles and 4 peaks

This seems to have been a busy week for me. I actually did this hike on Sunday but am only now getting around to writing it up.

The hike last Sunday was an ambitious one, at least for me. I'm positive it's the most hiking that I've done all summer. It was a good warm-up for an upcoming overnight hiking trip to the White Mountains.

We started out at the parking lot along route 3 at the start of the the trail leading to the Day mountain carriage road and trail. We planned to hit three summits: Day (583 feet), Triad (696 feet), and Pemetic (1,248 feet). Sitting on top of Pemetic, we couldn't resist adding Penobscot (1,194 feet) to our route. It took nearly 5 hours to complete the trek of 9.2 miles.

There is actually a carriage road that leads to the top od Day mountain that is an ease walk or bike ride. The trail head is a little deceptive since there is a well trodden path on the right of the carriage road. A little beyond this dead end is the Day mountain trail head on the left of the carriage road. It wasn't too long before we were rewarded with our first spectacular view.

Under the nearly-cloudless blue sky it was easy to press on to the summit. This is a fairly easy trail that left us with lots of energy to hike down the slope towards Triad mountain. 

Triad is actually three peaks. We headed towards the highest peak up some steep and rocky slopes via the Pemetic southeast trail. The climb was quick, but required a few stops to catch my breath. At the top, we stopped to enjoy the view and rest our legs.

Between Triad and Pemetic there is a forest path that could come straight out of a fairytale. The sun streaking through the leafy canopy lit the moss covered forest floor. I even spotted a large toad stool. Distracted by the magic beauty of the forest, I actually had to jog a little to catch up with the group. Sometimes you just need to stop and take a deep breath of the pine-laced air.

The climb up to Pemetic was even more abrupt than up Triad. There were plenty of rocky stairs and ledges to scramble over before breaking from the forest and climbing the rest of the way up the sun-drenched rock face to the summit.

Our lunch break well-earned, we enjoyed our food looking out onto Jordan Pond and the surrounding peaks. It was just too tempting to stop there. Plus we were contemplating a trail up Penobscot that I hadn't traveled yet. I'm a sucker for a new trail.

 So down Pemetic and across to Jordan pond we headed. An easy walk around the northern end of the pond and we were heading up the Deer Brook Trail. It was a fairly steady climb, or maybe my legs were getting a little tired. Still I couldn't resist another detour to Sargent Pond, a little oasis between Sargent and Penobscot mountains.

After another snack break, we double backed and sumited Penobscot. From there is was only a few more miles down to the Spring Trail, onto Jordan pond house, and back to the parking lot south of Day Mountain.

By the end of the 9.2 miles, I was ready to sit down to a cold drink and some hot food. The plan for this weekend is a lot less ambitious, the Orange and Black trail to the top of Champlain. Only 3.4 miles, provided I am not tempted to add another detour. With so many connecting trails and roads, it's just so easy to keep walking.


Acadia and St. Sauveur Mountain Trails

On Wednesday, the hiking group paid a visit to one of the better known hikes on the island. The Acadia mountain parking lot was packed with cars that even bordered the road on either side. This week has really felt like summer not just because of the hot and sunny weather but the scores of people who come to MDI to get away. Living in a vacation spot means putting up with the tourists for the few weeks they inundate the area. Before long they will be gone and the quiet will return.

Leaving the crowded parking lot behind, we headed towards Acadia mountain. There is a little jog before reaching the first rock scramble. It's an indication of what is to come. Although Acadia is only 681 feet in elevation, the trail rises quickly to the summit to a spectacular view of Somes Sound out towards Cranberry island. After the adventurous climb, the way down is less daunting although it still does hold some interesting rock scrambles. Once at the bottom the easy way to return to the parking lot is along the fire road. That round trip is about 2 miles. However, we planned to tackle the neighboring mountain, St. Sauveur.

Admittedly, after a long day of work energy is hard to come by and the heat was making it doubly difficult. However, there was little time to dwell on sweating backs and tired legs as the climb up St. Sauveur began. A mere 3 feet shorter than Acadia at 679 feet, the trail up St. Sauveur offered some steep rocky trails with minimal rock scrambles. My biggest concern was missing the cut-off to head back towards the Acadia parking lot. The last time I had hiked St. Sauveur with my dog we had gotten so turned around that I ended up in Southwest Harbor with a 3 mile walk back along the road. Fortunately, the trail junction was well marked. Just shy of the summit buried within the trees, we enjoyed our cookies before claiming the peak and heading back down to the cars.

The hike took nearly 3 hours and covered about 4 miles (not counting the elevation changes). It left me tired and invigorated at the same time.


Gorham Mountain Trail

View from Gorham MountainOn Wednesday of last week, the hiking club set its sights on the Gorham Mountain trail. It's not a particularly challenging trail with only a few rocky spots, but it does offer a unique few of the south eastern corner of MDI. We started at the Sand Beach parking lot to add some mileage and traveled along the Ocean path, passed Thunder Hole and Monument Cove, to reach the trail. In all it was just over 2 miles (525 ft max elevation) and took about 2 hours to complete at a fairly leisurely pace.

View of Beehive from the Bowl TrailThe thing that struck me about hiking that particular day was that you could see where you'd been, where you were going, distant islands, and even a spectacular view of the Beehive trail. The only thing you couldn't really appreciate was where you were. But that's the way it is with hiking. The view of Beehive really gave me a better appreciation for that trail. I've been up it 3 times (always taken the back end trails down). While on it all I can think about is the breathtaking views and even more breathtaking drops. I've enjoyed this trail for its challenge, but taking the outsider's view gave me a new appreciation for it.



Genetic influence on sexual preference behaviors in mice

One of the coolest parts of my job is that I get to read about scientific research in all areas of mouse genetics from development to behavior. While mice and men behave very differently, behavioral research in mice can point towards genes that may influence human behaviors.

This week I curated a recent Nature article that demonstrated the requirement of genes involved in the serotonin pathway for male sexual preference for female mice.

In "Molecular regulation of sexual preference revealed by genetic studies of 5-HT in the brains of male mice." (Nature 2011 Apr 7;472(7341):95-9), Lui et al. examined the sexual preference behaviors of mice lacking tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (Tph2tm1Zfc) or lacking LIM homeobox transcription factor 1 beta in the nervous system (Lmx1btm1Zfc Tg(Fev-cre)1Esd). In both models, male mice failed to exhibit a preference for mounting female mice. They also failed to exhibit a preference for female genital odor despite having normal odorant behavior towards other smells. 

Mouse studies like this one highlight the influence genes can have on behavior.


Schoodic Point (ANP)

It turned out to be a busy weekend for hiking. Sunday the lab's hiking group tackled Schoodic Point. It's about 45 minutes from MDI on one of the many peninsula that stick out into Frenchman's Bay. What Schoodic Point lacks in trails, it makes up for in spectacular views.

Our first hike started at the Blueberry Hill parking lot at the far end of the one-way park road. We hiked to the top of Schoodic Head and back down via the Anvil. Back at Blueberry hill, we had lunch by the waterside until the incoming tide reminded us there was more hiking to be done. The afternoon hike started at the bottom of the road that leads to the top of Schoodic Head. At the top for the second time that day, we headed down the East trail and back again over the top for the third time before walking back down the road to the cars.

Although most of the trail consists of easy walking and moderate inclines, a few rocky ledges add some challenge. The East side trail is by far the steepest but consequently the shortest. Wild-life spottings included two porcupines out for a midday stroll. The first escaped my camera, but I managed a slightly blurry photo of the second.

In all, we spent nearly a full day exploring Schoodic points from the top of Schoodic Head to the wonderfully rocky shores.