Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Cricket went scuba-diving! We’re gonna look at some dope fish, part 3.

Friday, August 31st, 2018

Wrapping up the magical ocean photos. Here we go!

A sweet spotted eel. Not scary like the moray demons with their extra set of throat-teeth.

And some moray eels. Creepy finger-biting-off creepers from Creepytown.

Mouthful of eggs. As someone who swallows regularly I would find this concerning as hell, but I guess you do what you have to do.

Puffer fish!

Another puffer fish!

Puffers and friends!

Get ready for a very pretty creature with an equally awesome name straight out of Harry Potter. Meet the Bristled Fire Worm.

Please enjoy… Lil Critter. We could not figure out what this little fella was. He has claws and eyes and antennae and that’s about all we could figure out.

Flounders! Did you know when they are born their eyes are on either side of their head but when the flounder picks a permanent side to lay on the eye underneath migrates to the top? NATURE! It’s real weird!

Glowing Fish. Cricket said he looked like he was lit from within.

Lobsters that are notoriously protective of their hidey-holes. They get very grumples when you get close. They will charge you.

Very important: Cricket went for a night dive (because I guess diving 80 feet below the surface during the day wasn’t terrifying enough) and saw a lobster out of its burrow trekking across the ocean floor which is a rare thing to see.

Dead piece of lobster face.

Okay. Now we begin with the shots that made me smack Cricket in the arm and say, “YOU SAW THAT??? FOR REALSIES??? My envy consumes me.” First, the nudibranch (pronounced “noo dih brank”). I’ve had strong feelings about nudibranches for many years, but I assumed I’d never see one in real life. They are sea slugs that come in a ton of varieties. Sometimes they have tufty protuberances on their backs, they’re the best. Here’s a collection of random shots I found on the internet. Type “nudibranch” into Google, click on images and fall deeply into the exquisite world of color and texture.

  

I know, right? Amazing. So when Cricket showed me a few different pictures and said, “I dunno what that is” I screamed, “YOU SAW A NUDIBRANCH IN REAL LIFE IN FRONT OF YOU.”

Shortly after the magic of the nudibranch, Cricket showed me a picture of, as he called it, “A shrimp in his hole.” Uhhhhh, that’s not a regular shrimp. That’s a MANTIS SHRIMP, THE KING OF SHRIMPS. They can see all the colors. They punch their prey at the speed of lightning, boiling the water around them. The Oatmeal did a whole long strip on the glory of the Mantis Shrimp. And Cricket saw one. I don’t know how to process this.

Finally, the group of squids. These were teens and they were travelling in a group that looked exactly like a group of battleships in a scifi movie. I christened them “The Squidron.” I would love someday to see a squidron in person. So marvelous. I would mess up all the squids trying to hug them.

A close-up of one squid’s chromatophores.

And that’s it. Pretty amazing stuff. Hope you screamed with glee as much as I did.

 

Cricket went scuba-diving! We’re gonna look at some dope fish, part 2.

Friday, August 24th, 2018

More fish! Excellent, magical fish. Get ready.

But first, anemonemones! Memonemones! Mnemonoes! Mahnahmahnah (doodoodoodoodoo)!

My favorite are the ones that look like little hands.

Big ornery crab.

Two very beautiful fish that resisted classification due to my ignorance of oceanography and whatnot.

A not-great picture of a boxfish but look at those patterns! Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about hexagons (I’m pro).

And a far better picture of a boxfish but without any hexagons (boo).

Trumpet fish. I think they should be called Flute fish because they do not flare out at the end but I wasn’t there when they were naming the fishes so I lost my vote.

Nurse shark. Nurse shark. Nurse shark. Shark skin. I like nurse sharks because they do not have those gross eyes that pull in to the socket when they bite. Ugh, those give me nightmares.

 

Cricket was attacked by a protective fish. “Attacked” is a strong word. He tried to bite Cricket with his little moopers again and again but sadly, due to the fact the Cricket is a thousand times bigger that AggroFish and wearing a wetsuit, the bites did not have the desired effect. However, Cricket appreciated the little guy’s tenacity.

Conches! It is pronounced “konk.” I’ve being saying it wrong for the majority of my life. They are similar to snails. Here are the trails they leave when they trot around on the sea floor.

The best part of the conch is their eyes. They peer out from under their shells with concern and anxiety and I always enjoy seeing them.

Brace yourself for some supreme cuteness. Wee bebbeh boxfish. He was extremely wee so Cricket couldn’t get a good focus on him. First, an example pic so you know what you’re looking at.

I know. Epic cuteness. Now Cricket’s photos. So precious. My heart hurts looking at it. I love you, tiny fren!

That’s it for now. Next entry: the final pics. Get ready to shriek with excitement (I did).

Cricket went scuba-diving! We’re gonna look at some dope fish, part 1.

Saturday, August 18th, 2018

Cricket loves to go scuba diving and he bought a special camera to his last few diving trips. I do love a good deep-sea friend and every time Cricket goes diving I ask him to wave and say hello to the fishies, which he says he does (there’s no way for me to really check up on that, I have to take his word). When he returns he asks me to remove some of the blue from his photos. There’s only so much I can do but on many of his photos I clean out a lot of the blue tint. Here is an example.

This photo collection is from several trips so I’m going to break it up into several entries, because many things to share. Let’s dive in, shall we? (I’m so sorry.)

Here is a random assortment of some of the stunners Cricket has come across. The ocean has some truly magnificent treasures.

      

Look how many fish!

I know animals do not have the same emotions as us and it is ridiculous for us to force our human qualities on them but I do it anyway. Shoot me, I like to anthropomorphize. Anyway, I call these “concerned fish.”

A ray. Look at his pretty pretty pattern. He has dots and then his dots have dots.

I do not know the name of this guy, so I christened him The Toadfish. I like his angry expression and stripery.

Skinny crab! It’s real skinny and it has glowy-glowy claws.

Here is another skinny crab but the reason I included this is because of the pignose anemone/coral/whatever in the background.

I call this The Ooog. I have no idea what this is. I’m not positive I want to know.

Cricket sees turtles fairly frequently and what’s cool is he gets to watch them eating coral. You know that’s how sand is made, right? Part of it is crushed seashells and part of it is munched-on coral that turtles have eaten.

I feel like the fish off to the side is like, “Sooo, eating coral again? Going well? Good talk, good talk.”

Here’s a super teeny tiny crab.

And here’s a super teeny tiny seahorse.

Here’s a closeup of the seahorse because it is so teeny tiny it’s hard to see.

Stonefish! A decomposing heap of ocean debris masquerading as a fish and if you step on it it can kill you!

A barracuda.

A blenny in its home-hole.

A blenny with great eyebrows. I have named him Martin Scorsese and if you don’t know why look Mr. Scorsese up on Google and take in those glorious furry forehead caterpillars.

No idea what this is. Any information would be most appreciated.

Cricket sees many hermit crabs on his journeys. Here is a sweet little guy on a pile of some kind of beautiful organic netting, possibly seaweed.

Here’s an extremely small guy. Cricket said it was the size of the pad on your pinkie finger.

This crab had eyelids!

 

This crab has eyelashes!

 

Shrimps bein’ shrimps. Some with glowy-glowy claws like the skinny crabs.

A grouper at a cleaning station. The big fish pull into the station and little fish go into their mouths and pick the goonk and bacteria out.

And I leave you at this time with a large grab in a lovely multicolored setting. Super photogenic.

A light smattering of internet. Mostly nature-related.

Friday, August 10th, 2018

1. A VERY important article about the our friend the boxfish.

http://anklecrack.tumblr.com/post/174496481893/its-hip-to-be-square

 

2. I don’t know what ballet this is from but I REALLY need to see it. If anyone knows, please tell me so I can buy tickets asap thnx.

http://10knotes.1000notes.com/post/80231584492

 

3. Look at the beautiful pattern of weathering on this chainlink fence.

It reminds me of the graffiti artist El Mac and the circular patterns found in his work.

 

4. I love that the artist Alexis Pavlantos is making dung beetles with felted dung balls as jewelry. I went to the site and no items related to the dung beetle is being sold which is a bummer, but it’s still cool as hell. Maybe Pavlantos will bring back the poop-pushing jewelry line. Let’s hope.

 

5. The Audubon website recently had an article on the gorgets of hummingbirds. The gorget is the bib area and it is often really bright and metallic. This particular photo blew me away. I never realized that each of those little peaks and valleys is one feather, not the whole curved scale section. Those feathers are teeny-tiny.

 

6. Trees no want to make touch.

It’s so cool and no one has a concrete answer on why trees do it. Wikipedia has some theories.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_shyness

 

7. Uhhhhhh, I don’t know what kind of filter or video-editing program this is but I kind of want to edit everything to be like this. That is trippy as hell.

http://photoelectron.tumblr.com/post/133267929461/walking-down-a-trail-in-charlottesville-a-few

Cape May, NJ.

Monday, July 16th, 2018

Cricket’s family goes to Cape May, NJ every year and even though I’ve been with him for a decade and a half I’ve never accompanied him on this annual journey to reunite the soul with the sea, birthplace of all living things.

I decided to go this year and I have to say, I had an extremely pleasant time. I mean, I was outside a lot where the sun is located and I don’t care for that at all, but aside from that it was really nice. The best thing about Cape May is all the Victorian houses. So many painted ladies with porches and pretty landscaping. I took photos.

And here are more pictures I found on the internet taken by other people.

 

At night (when the sun was not out and I didn’t feel like Helios was trying to tandoori my skin off my flesh) I would walk around the streets and feel feelings about the architectural details and the occasional remaining stained glass window. The only time I felt unsafe was when I walked past one house and someone was playing a piano that sounded exactly like the piano from Westworld. Westworld takes modern songs and makes them sound like a tune you’d hear in a saloon in the Wild West. One the show you hear them right before something atrocious and violent happens so as soon as I heard it I was like, “Oh no, is everyone going to get shot? And disemboweled? Maybe a shot and disemboweled combo? Definitely booze bottles and knives will be thrown. I should take cover with the prostitutes.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mq364f4RGqE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNaaimFtMTg

Something that amused me nonstop was how they tried to make the street signs look Victorian but they just look vaguely goth as if 1990s Hot Topic designed them.

A+ for effort.

Our B&B where we stayed was designed in the typical 1870s-style with the doilies and the marble-topped pedestal tables, etc. Our room had a strip of decorative wallpaper with a repeating peacock motif that I thought was fine until I got up close and saw that the peacocks looked demonic and had angry skull faces and then I liked the wallpaper a lot more. The way to my heart is evil peacocks, unsurprisingly.

The majority of the two days I was there was spent at the beach splashing around in the water and trying to dislodge shell shards from my sandals. In the evening Cricket and I would go to the other beach about three miles away that faced in the opposite direction and watch the sun set.

This beach didn’t really have sand, it had awesome round smooth pebbles and horseshoe crabs mating like crazy. In case you don’t know what that looks like, a female horseshoe crab (which is the larger of the sexes because she is filled with thousands and thousands of eggs) climbs up on the beach and the male horseshoe crab glomps onto her tail so whenever she’s ready for love he’s there. She now has to drag him around the beach as she contemplates where she will make her nest. It looks like two mismatched frying pans moving slowly around in the shallows. Very romantic.

I also saw dolphins and a ray and a shark, it was a good weekend for seeing animals. I even enjoyed the seagulls. They were fancy, high-end seagulls with black heads and gray wings and elegant lines.

So since The Moomins likes the beach I am taking her back for her birthday at the end of August. We will eat ice cream and frolick in the waves (after 4:00 in the afternoon because the sun sucks).

Internet musings.

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

1. I was on Amazon buying something unnecessary and this ad popped up because Amazon clearly knows its target audience:

I was faced with a quandary. If I was going to watch this game (I wasn’t), who would I root for? Normally I root for the animal, but these are both animals. What’s a girl to do? I decided I would root for the Seahawks because they have a bird of prey name and I love owls (it’s a stretch but let’s work with it) AND even though I adore female cardinals (their drab coloring compliments the redness in their beak) I’ve noticed cardinals are very mean to the other birds at bird feeders and I don’t want to be complicit in that. So I would support the Seahawks. SPORTS FAN!

 

2. Everyone know what a black metal band is? Wikipedia says:

Black metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music. Common traits include fast tempos, a shrieking vocal style, heavily distorted guitars played with tremolo picking, raw (lo-fi) recording, unconventional song structures, and an emphasis on atmosphere. Artists often appear in corpse paint and adopt pseudonyms.

You can go on YouTube, there’s a ton of videos there. A thing that is extremely common amongst black metal bands are illegible spiky tumbleweed-resembling logos.

There are great memes out there that illustrate my point:

So, with all this in mind, Snorth’s husband Speeb sent me this on Facebook:

And I tried to figure out the names. I really, really tried. I felt like I was at an eye exam. Here is my response:

 

3. Look at this sea cucumber video! It’s like a little pulsating sphincter and then BOOM! Arms outta nowhere. I love it.

https://gif87a-com.tumblr.com/post/167984024750/this-sea-cucumber-waking-up-to-eat

 

4. Jackson Hole, Wyoming. A place… with people, I guess. I don’t know anything about it. What I do know is there was a camera – you know what? I’m not going to explain. The pictures explain themselves.

 

5. I could watch this gif all day. What awesome costumes. I am so impressed.

 

6. So Maxine Waters is a congresswoman from California and she is relatively famous for the phrase “reclaiming my time.” Refer to this video for clarification:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EvuBakBj3I

And God bless the internet, because now there’s this and I watch it at least once every couple of days.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4u3nt-TFXM

 

Addendum: “99 Red Balloons” played on red balloons.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZND9dApFKU

Vienna and Krakow, Part 3.

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

The Moomins and I are expert travelers. Without making an effort we managed to see seven museums in five days. If we had tried and pulled ourselves out of bed before 10:00am we probably could have done far more but seven isn’t too shabby. One of those museums was The Belvedere. Here’s Wikipedia’s description of it:

The Belvedere is a historic building complex in Vienna, Austria, consisting of two Baroque palaces (the Upper and Lower Belvedere), the Orangery, and the Palace Stables. The buildings are set in a Baroque park landscape in the third district of the city, on the south-eastern edge of its centre. It houses the Belvedere museum. The grounds are set on a gentle gradient and include decorative tiered fountains and cascades, Baroque sculptures, and majestic wrought iron gates. The Baroque palace complex was built as a summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy.

It’s a beautiful building and I’m sure the gardens are great in the summer, but I went there during Frozen Mud Season so yeah, gardens not so great. Here are my pics of the exterior.

I love how the sphinx has dirty boobies because people keep rubbing them. Never change, everybody.

Here’s a picture through a rainy window of the gardens and the city in the distance.

On the front lawn was a fun piece of modern art. It’s one of the best-named pieces I’ve ever seen. It’s called “Fat House” and it’s… a fat house. The only name more descriptive would be “Morbidly Obese Cottage.”

The inside of the Belvedere had lovely gallery spaces that were very very Baroque.

The only time I got miffed was when they put perfectly good paintings of guinea fowl a million miles above the doorway, as shown by this picture here. I can’t see the guinea fowl, guys! Provide a ladder please and thank you!

We went in the main entry hall and immediately noticed the pervasive scent of church incense. The Moomins and I were confused because there’s no church in there. We decided to start with the Medieval Art Wing and headed to that area and the smell got stronger. When we opened the door to the wing The Moomins and I were greeted by a sight we were wholly unprepared for.

Get ready.

In the entry hall to the Medieval exhibit, with no explanation whatsoever, was an oversized white sculpture of a woman on all fours using a broken shard of mirror to tweeze her mustache while wisps of church incense puffed out of her butthole.

I was mentally not equipped to research the reasoning for this at the time but I just went to the Belvedere website and this is what I found:

Larger than life, she kneels on a tabletop with her blouse pushed up. The only sign of her divinity is the frankincense emanating from an opening in her body. Unfazed by the viewer’s gaze, in an all too human manner she plucks a hair from her chin. The intimate nature of this representation is in diametrical opposition to typical depictions of Olympian gods. This is Hera by Ines Doujak.

I do not understand why this is a thing that is. Later on I was climbing the giant staircase and at the top I saw what I assumed were giant ceramic jars decorated with snakes. Nope! Those are supposed to be intestines. It was at this point I turned to Moomins and said, “I’m concerned about the curators of this museum. I think they’re trying to tell us something. Like their mom didn’t hug them enough, maybe. Or their pet was hit by a car and that is their primary childhood memory. There’s definitely some weird trauma they’re working through.”

There wasn’t only disturbing confusing modern art. There was also old art which can be disturbing and confusing in their own way, but it’s different. For example, one of the elements I love about paintings from around 1300 is the exquisite way fabric is rendered and how everything else looks terrible. I appreciate that they didn’t know how to do perspective so that looks janky as heck:

And the horses look like they’re on drugs and are vaguely humanoid:

And these farm animals appear to be plotting to kill that old man doing a poor job of hiding his Fifth Element head:

I fixed it to accurately portray what I think I’m seeing.

This was surprising. It’s a plague-ridden time, you would think there would be skulls all over for reference and the artists would be able to paint them accurately. You would be wrong.

There were a ton of other pieces of art from all different periods. The Belvedere is most famous for having “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt but it’s not that amazing in person. I would recommend you go to the Neue Gallerie in New York City. That museum has “Woman in Gold” which I think is a far superior Klimt. I was very psyched to enter a room and bump into one of the paintings I studied in school, “Napoleon Lookin’ Hella Patriotic On A Horse” by Jacques-Louis David.

My favorite painting was a thoroughly non-famous one I just happened across. It’s an exceptionally well-rendered painting of four vultures. I really wanted to shove it under my shirt and take it home but it’s a large painting and I most likely would go to prison so my desires went unquenched.

And, of course, we had coffee and cake in their cafe. And it was magnificent.

Next entry: What else? More museums.

What an excellent day for an exorcism. Or charts.

Saturday, February 3rd, 2018

And, because I’m going to Vienna and Krakow in late February and Krakow is one of the last places that has wild European Bison, this pertinent chart:

Mantis mantis mantis. (Mantis.)

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

Mantis! First, my work companion. My coworker Tongue is obsessed with plants. He has a gazillion plants in his home, and seeds, and things that look like they’re dead twigs but are not, all the plants. In order to prevent bugs from eating his beloved plants Tongue bought baby mantises (I like to pronounce that “manteeses” even though it’s wrong). He brought a few of the mantises in plastic containers to work where I proceeded to get no work done because I had to cuddle the sweet wee demon-bugs! So cute! So sway-y!

I love how he has a little hat on his head between his sweet little curly antennae. It reminded me of the Pharoah’s crown, the one that looks like a bowling pin nestled in a wonton soup spoon.

I also love how the mantis had a neck that he can turn. And the swaying was great. And occasionally he would flick out his praying arms. As I said, not much work was accomplished during his tenure. Eventually Tongue took the mantises home which made me forlorn but was probably for the best. Sigh.

More mantis! A friend of a friend recommended me for some design work. A woman named Yoda was starting her own production company called Pink Orchid International and asked me for a logo. She said she was not opposed to anything related to pink or orchid. I got to make a variety of interpretations and you bet your sweet patoot I did an orchid mantis version, yes I did.

Yeah. Not surprisingly, Yoda did not use my super-amazing mantis logos. She chose the one in the upper left because she is professional and I want to incorporate insects and skulls and rainbows into everything I do. But I was appreciative of the opportunity. Maybe someday I will get the chance to make bug-related business identities. Who knows what the future holds (insect-logo-wise).

Russia’s vice-like hold on the apex of crafting will crumble at my feet.

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

So you may or may not know that I have a personal ongoing feud with the entire former Soviet Union because every time I am feeling good about my artistic talents some Slavic person pops up on my Pinterest and destroys my self-esteem with their superior skills. Every time. Like clockwork. I’ve mentioned it here:

http://design-newyork.com/blog/2013/10/08/two-artists-that-are-magnificent-and-humbling/

And here:

http://design-newyork.com/blog/2016/01/23/two-artists-that-might-make-me-not-scared-of-dolls-finally/

And here:

http://design-newyork.com/blog/2016/08/30/moooooooom-the-russians-are-being-better-at-crafts-again/

While we’re here, let’s add Julia Gorina to the list:

And Tatiana Verkhovskaya:

It never ends. But today is a new day. Today is the day I begin my climb to my rightful place as The Best At Crafts. I’ll take you through my journey.

I like jewelry. I like early 1900s fancy jewelry with enamel and plique a jour (enamel with no back, kind of like tiny stained glass) and diamonds and gold. Unfortunately I do not have the kind of money to buy all the things I want. So I’ve decided to figure out how to make it myself in far less expensive mediums like wire and resin and crystals. I made a folder of inspirational images to draw ideas from.

 

I started with this one:

I wanted a really simple shape with thicker and thinner parts where the diamond sizes are graded and the diamonds are on a dark background like tarnished silver. I only used stuff I already had in my apartment, so I wrapped some gold wire in some brown wire and soldered loops so it could hang and made sure all the shapes were closed because I intended to dip the shape into that plastic stuff that Sakae uses for her kanzashi.

I learned oh, oh so much during this process. Like if the wire is made of aluminum it does not want to be soldered. And if you have a big open space in the middle of your piece the plastic dip material will not go across it, you need little struts to break up the space. AND why people don’t have thick wires at in their plastic dip pieces is because of The Glop. More on that later. But I got it to a decent place. I wired, then I soldered, then I dipped, then I failed, then I picked off all the plastic, then I did it again, then I failed again, then I finally got it right, then I covered it in a thin layer of UV resin, then I painted delicate black calligraphic lines on the thicker edges, then I adhered graded flat-back crystals along the black paint. The final product looks like this.

With my hand for scale.

Here is The Glop situation I was describing.

Okay. Good start. Things I will do in the future:

  • Use raw copper wire with copper solder so it adheres more easily and the solder isn’t as noticeable (the solder I used was the standard silver-colored one and it’s REAL noticeable)
  • Spray it with a water / baking soda mixture to make it brown
  • If the “windows” are small I will use thinner wire to avoid The Glop
  • Try UV gel topcoat instead of UV resin because the resin is thick, prone to bubbles and has a yellowish cast
  • The black acrylic paint worked fine, that’s staying
  • Using UV resin with a paintbrush to attach the crystals also worked fine, that’s staying too

I’m psyched about where this is heading. I feel lots of growth and potential in this. Soon all of Siberia will be mine for the taking, craft-wise. Stay tuned for more on this as it happens.