Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

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 a wonderful 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.

No sleep for you.

Friday, January 12th, 2018

You know when you go to bed at night and you’re tired and and you think, “Ahhh, I will fall asleep immediately, better get my passport ready for the Land of Nod,” but your brain decides this is the ideal time to throw random nuggets of information at you that you feel compelled to ponder? And this prevents you from going to sleep? And you end up hating your own brain? I know other people experience this, I’ve seen the memes on Buzzfeed:

 

(Colitas are mentioned in the song Hotel California. “On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair, warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air.” It’s supposed to mean “little buds” as in marijuana.)

I’d like to share my night-time thoughts that cause me to be an unproductive bag of parts the next day. Here we go:

  • I heard somewhere that Usain Bolt has never run a full mile in his life. He only does short sprints. That seems crazy to me. I’ve run/walked/huffed The Mile several times in middle school and high school. If I’ve done it Usain should have done it. Do the schools where Usain grew up not require them? And if so, why did I not move to that place? I really hated The Mile.
  • I watched a video of a snail laying eggs.*https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BK2GRY8Y6U

    How do the eggs make their way down the body? Is is like peristaltic motion, where the muscles move in a sequence? Is the snail positioned downhill and I can’t tell from the camera angle? Why don’t the eggs take the shortest path possible and ploop off the side of the midsection instead of making their way to the tail? Also, there’s that snail that that doesn’t have a vagina, the acting male (they’re hermaphrodites) just stabs it and throws the sperm in the stabbing hole. How does that work? How does he know he’s not pumping his seed into her liver or kidney? Is her whole body a holding tank for eggs? What the hell is going on in there?
  • What ever happened to that lower-case “f” letter without the line across it that was the “s” sound? Does everyone know what I’m talking about? Here, an example:

    I read somewhere it has something to do with a “hard s” (which is the Z sound) and a “soft s” (which is the typical S sound, like a hiss). I’m wondering if we can bring it back. And what made the Germans get rid of the stacked double S?

    Did the Germans take a vote? Like, okay, this letter ain’t cuttin’ it no more, bring in your keyboards and a pair of pliers, we’re going to pull that key off never to be pressed again. Who is on the committee? Are there lobbyists, sliding money under the table to keep certain letters off the chopping block? I bet the pound sign people were sweating bullets until hashtags became a thing. The early 2000s were a scary time for the pound sign folks.

*If you want to have a profoundly trippy experience, watch this video with the sound on. And tell me, why that snail is laying eggs out of the side of its head? Because that doesn’t seem right AT ALL.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qGnbLeuysU

I made some stuff. Let’s look at it.

Monday, December 18th, 2017

I made two things, veeerrrrrrrrry diametrically opposite. First, the deer skull. Cricket’s dad found a deer skull with antlers behind their house twenty years ago and Cricket recently gave the skull to me. It was a fine-looking skull and I wanted to display it but it looked sort of nakey. So I decided to decorate the skull using every bead technique I could think of. I even tried new techniques I had only seen online. One of my big inspirations was Betsy Youngquist. I’ve mentioned her before. She does some drool-worthy work. I don’t know what you’d call what she does – bead and found item mosaic? Object decoupage? Three-dimensional collage? Whatever it’s called, it’s awesome and I’m a big ole fan. Here are some of her newer pieces.

You know those sewing samplers from days of yore? Where a young girl would make every stitch she knew how to do on a piece of fabric? That’s what this skull turned into for me. Since I was using a million different techniques I limited my color palette to white, pearl and silver. I was pretty psyched with how it turned out. My photos are meh because for some reason my camera was flabbergasted by all the white but maybe someday in the future I will have a professional take pictures of it for my portfolio.

The second project I worked on was different in every way something could be different. It was for work, for starters. We were pitching a birth control drug. Most of the deck was perfectly normal. “Our research shows that women this that and a third thing and here’s a quote and here’s a chart,” etc. I blurred out a lot of stuff that may or may not be proprietary.

However the strategists wanted to show that modern women are bombarded by unwanted dick pics all day every day. I was told to find pictures of men showing off their charms, put them in the deck and cover the jingly-jangly parts with emojis. I get paid actually usable currency to do this. So late on the night before the pitch I typed in things that would get you fired anywhere else into Google and there they were. A veritable field of men displaying their appendages. Here’s a screengrab I took that I heavily doctored to make it SFW.

I was sitting there, sifting through the pics because I needed their head at one angle and their implements at another angle (to get the emoji cover-up to work). I also typed in several specific ethnicities to get a diverse spread (ha ha ha). I was so involved in finding the right images for the job that I neglected to notice the cleaning lady behind me who could totally see what I was doing. I only realized it afterwards and I REALLY wanted her to report me for being gross and pervy on the job so I could explain that it was for work. Alas, she did not. She does, however, greet me with a big smile every time she sees me now, like, “I know what you’re into, yeeeeeaaaaaaah.” I kinda want to tell her that that’s not my jam but then we’d have to talk about it and I don’t feel like doing that so this is how it’s going to stay. Me and the cleaning lady have a dick-pic bond. It’s a dream come true.

It’s an animal post!

Saturday, November 25th, 2017

1. A woman put a camera near her bird feeder and the pictures she gets are straight-up gold. Her name is Lisa M. Ca (but it should be Lisa M. CAW, amirite everyone? Hello? Anyone?). Here is a picture of her camera setup.


I think my favorites are the doves because I’m a sucker for doves (PigeonLover 4 Lyfe) but the, and I quote, “Grackle with a Snackle” is pretty great as well.

I highly recommend going to her blog and looking at all the bird pics. They drop your blood pressure really fast. So calming.

https://ostdrossel.tumblr.com/

 

2. A picture of alligators (or possibly crocodiles) in a river. With reflective eyes. I love the deep blue water and the orange retinas. Photo by David Moynahan.

 

3. I think we should return to this form of reproduction because I am 100% not feeling the “Imma rip my way out of you” technique we as humans are using now. Methinks time for an upgrade.

 

4. What my day would be like in Toyko: Wake up. Put on oven mitt. Go to squirrel park. Hang out with squirrels. Go home at night. Repeat every day following.

https://kotaku.com/inside-japanese-squirrel-gardens-yes-squirrel-gardens-1465052392

 

5. And while this isn’t technically an animal it is still nature-related so I’m putting it here. It’s a chandelier made with living algae. It helps clean the air.

Here’s an article about it. https://www.curbed.com/2017/9/27/16372820/air-purifying-plants-algae-chandelier-julian-melchiorri

Guatemala, Part 6.

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

Lake Atitlan. Get ready.

But first, Antigua’s main plaza! That I forgot to add to the Antigua posts earlier! I love how there’s old ruins and new ruins and everything all sort of mooshed together.

And I only made it to the main cathedral at night so all my pictures are blurry, but here’s the best of the bunch. A beautiful building, beautifully lit.

Okay, Lake Atitlan. We stayed at a hotel with THE MOST AMAZING GARDENS EVER. The owner started them several decades before and lovingly caressed and cuddled them and now they’re mind-blowing.

You would think I had never seen a plant before in my life the way I reacted to this garden. Right outside our room there were some screamy parrots that came out of their enclosure during the day to sit in the vines and shriek violently at the guests. One was a scarlet macaw. He was extra-screamy.

And there was one tree on the far edge of the property with the most interesting pattern in its bark. I felt like I was in a werewolf movie.

And here are the closeups I took of specific plants. Fun tidbit: while taking some of these photos, The Moomins had to protect me from getting attacked by an ornery goose that lives near a small koi pond on the property. I guess I got too close to the goose’s woman and he was disgruntled. It was worth almost dying at the hand (wing?) of waterfowl because these plants were something else, I tell ya.

We went out on a tour of the lake itself. I did not know that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author of The Little Prince, crash-landed in Guatemala and saw the mountain there that inspired him to write the “draw me a sheep” portion of the book. Specifically the elephant in the snake that is mistaken for a hat. <—- That sentence sounds like I had a stroke but if you’ve read the book it makes sense I promise.

Here’s an article about Saint-Exupéry and Guatemala.

https://globalvoices.org/2008/07/11/guatemala-was-antigua-the-inspiration-for-the-little-prince/

There was also a napping volcano. Shhhhh, Volcano, everything is fine. No make ‘splosions.

Aaaaaaaand that’s pretty much the highlights from my trip. However, one of the other people on the trip, Boris (who had THE BEST Russian accent in the world) had a far superior camera and took some unbelievable pictures of birds and other beasties. He was kind enough to share them with me, and now I will share them with you.

Guatemala, Post 5.

Friday, November 17th, 2017

More Antigua! But first, other things.

We drove past a funeral. It was quite sad. A police officer had been killed. I love how the whole neighborhood showed up and was walking with the family to show support. There was also a band playing mournful walking music and I think we as a nation need to get on that.

I saw a fountain and I liked how they planted flowers birds-of-paradise flowers the fountain. Plus there was a pigeon and I am on Team Pigeon 4 Lyfe. Extremely pro-pigeon. Not ashamed of it.

Okay, so Antigua. The buildings are very short and the roads are extremely wide because if an earthquake destroys a building and it pitches forward it doesn’t knock down the building on the opposite side.

There is a former nunnery in Antigua, Convent of las Capuchinas. It cost a lot of money to become a nun and that, combined with the constant battery of earthquakes, caused the nunnery to be shut down.

The grout that holds those brick walls together was a mixture of sand, gravel and egg whites. The city apparently ran out of eggs during the construction of this building.

The wine cellar for holy ceremonial wines was build like a doughnut with a big column in the middle which is how it survived all the earthquakes. It has great acoustics so the nuns used to go down there and sing and maybe sample the wines.

And there are gardens which are beautiful. It’s not too hard to have a gorgeous garden in Antigua, I saw many of them.

As we walked along the street during the sunset on the last night we found a rooftop bar in an old mansion-type home. The fancy older buildings reminded me of Spain. They tended to have huge scary exterior walls:

And gorgeous compound-like interiors with gardens. This was no exception.

When we went up to the roof you could really appreciate how the city is nestled in between the mountains.

• | • | • | INTERMISSION | • | • | •

Dia de los Muertos-type dolls! Same store as the decorated antlered skulls. I showed restraint and did not buy them.

• | • | • | INTERMISSION OVER | • | • | •

That’s all my photos on Antigua. I only have four photos for the town of Panajachel, a town on the edge of Lake Atitlan (more about Lake Atitlan in a bit) so let’s go through those.

CHARCH! In Panajachel we visited the church. I liked the architectural style

The inside of the church looked like and upside-down boat.

And there was a nice carved monster holding up the display board in the back.

Here was the biggest surprise for me in Panajachel. Stay with me here: There is a semi-famous artist from Vienna Austria named Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928 – 2000). His artwork is extremely distinctive. It’s difficult to mistake it for someone else’s work. Here are some examples.

Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to see a rather large mural featuring some of Hundertwasser’s work in this small village in Guatemala.

Whattup, Hundy? How you doin’?

Okay, coming up next: Lake Atitlan. Get ready for the most insane plants you have ever seen.