Yes, I know, an event of momentous historical importance took place today, and I'm not blogging it. What could I say that millions of others aren't already punditing about? Nothing much, I venture.
So my contribution today is to highlight a fun concept: squirrel performance evaluation, aka squirrel fishing. (I was originally looking for research on the microbiota of squirrels...)
Due to the lack of peer-reviewed documentation, I'm not sure who first formalized this method/discipline; personally I stumbled onto an old webpage by Nikolas Gloy and Yasuhiro Endo, who were at the time students at the Harvard University Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Gloy and Endo appear to have established their protocol independently of any other initiatives around 1997. Since then, very professional-looking clubs of enthusiasts have sprung up, such as the World Official Squirrel Fishing Association. Be sure to go check out their fantastic photos.
The idea, summarized here by one Nelson Acquilano (Squirrel Fishing is a Harmless and Fun Sport) is simple enough. And really, the picture says it all.
Squirrel fishing is the sporting practice of "catching squirrels” using a peanut tied to a string or fishing line, or perhaps, optionally some kind of fishing pole. The fun is when the squirrel grabs the peanut and tugs at the line to try to pull the “bait” off. Sometimes a squirrel will not give up and the “fisherman” can attempt to gently lift him a few inches into the air.
There are many styles of “fishing.” Essentially, one ties a peanut (the bait) to a piece of kite string or light cord and tosses it out about fifteen feet in front of a squirrel. The “fisherman” then remains motionless for a few minutes. The squirrel hunts for the food, and then as it closes in on the peanut, the fisherman teases the squirrel by gently pulling it an inch or two, and then lets the line relax again. The squirrel becoming attracted, again approaches the peanut, and the “fisherman” teases the squirrel by gently drawing it back a few inches once again.