Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Petit Froggie

Pea frog


How cute! Question? If you live in a carnivorous plant, is it best to be a vegetarian? Since your host eats all the meaty ants and bugs dropping in unannounced, there must be precious little left to dine on except for stray seeds and plant particles. Interesting to find froggie's offspring swimming happily in the liquid inside the plant. Does missy go out on the town to find a beau or is there sufficient room to invite ones paramour over for a meal and side benefits? Unlikely this species will turn into a prince when kissed as any sudden inhalation would turn him into a small morsel of junk food. Question 2? How many pea sized frogs does it take to provide a decent plateful of frogs legs for supper?

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The Frog Kisser


Ah! Sweet Prince

Had me worried for a second that I would have to return to France to ward off any possible viruses. Only six weeks ago, it would have been easy to kiss enough frogs for a lifetime - does air-kissing count - even if the frenchies exhibited some distain towards  people residing in the old colonies. Alas, I will have to confine myself to the four legged froggies whispering sweet ribbits in my ear although kissing is off limits due to my requirement for a princess.  The Grimms and Andersen might have given this item more thought when dreaming up fairy tales; perhaps frogs were only considered to be male and toads were female.  Could take a risk on kissing a toad if a pretty one hopped by on my way to the swamp.  Hmmmm! Aren't one or the other hallucinogenic when licked? Anyway, this latest research may just result in a heavier reduction in the already decimated population of various frog species. Disappearing habitat, deadly highway crossings and a penchant for frogs legs in Mexico has some families retreating to the far side of the pod. However, here comes the rush to capture froggies to use as live luffa pads or sweaty condiments! Maybe a side business in terrariums is in my future.

Photo by Flickr user marmota used under Creative Commons

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Copies and Fakes and Forgeries


China Wholesale Oil Paintings Wholesale China Xiamen Oil Paintings

An accidental find while searching for images.
Nothing remarkable about another painting mill churning out masterpieces by the thousands. Although one might wonder how many sweat shop ateliers are dotted about the vast Chinese landscape. How many artists slaving at 25 cents an hour does it take to fill up a warehouse in Europe and another in the United States? And why are you invited to visit the European facility while the US building is off limits? Perhaps they are merely guarding industrial secrets in the US of A! Lower costs in the country of manufacture must be the reason shipping is free or seems to be depending on how one interprets the shipping guidelines.

Shipping from warehouses in Europe or the United States.
Because it is in our US or Europe warehouse. Free Shipping for North Of America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand !

So your fine art purchase will be free of shipping charges only if you live North of the named areas. Canada must be in this zone being located north of America and technically traveling north of Europe also leads to Canada. Heading north from New Zealand involves mostly ocean dotted with a few islands. Most of Asia could be considered north of Australia so I guess free shipping applies.

Now they consider it good business to produce copies or fakes or forgeries; however, they appear to think it would be a violation of their business rights to reproduce their original works of art. Hence, the warning attached to the images - 'Warning! CopyRight Codes Inside, New Crafts Co.'. There goes my brilliant idea of buying item 23799 -  Vincent Van Gogh Seascape at Saintes-Maries - and mass producing it for the African market.

BTW. The image accompanying this post is an original art work by yours truly done in the style of Picasso and protected by copyright, throughout the known Universe, and not to be copied or reproduced in any manner especially by New Crafts Co.!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

What!! Me Disturbed?


Are some things just better left unknown?

1. The Earth is not the center of the universe. 
I never got past Apollo yarding the sun across the sky in his chariot. It has bothered me from time to time why I am unable to catch a glimpse of the sky god since I have watched for him galloping over the horizon just an instant before the sun appears and causes temporary blindness. See item 10 as he may be composed of dark energy! Besides I know a number of people who definitely perceive (impossible to convince them otherwise)  themselves as the center of the cosmos and the Earth and the rest of us are of scant importance.
2. The microbes are gaining on us.
Of course they are!!  You can't fight what you can't see and they know it. Once the zillions of them gather at the bi-millennium microbe/bacteria convention - Vancouver in 2012 - and meld into one gigantic brain , it will a cinch for them to outsmart us once and for all. Chances are they won't kill us. We could serve as pets or biological vehicles to speed up their working day.
3. There have been mass extinctions in the past, and we’re probably in one now.
I know I will eventually be called on the carpet to explain my complicity in endangering one of our bellwether species. So a confession is in order and as they say - confession is good for the soul. Years ago acting as a normal preteen male at summer camp, I engaged in the ecological harvest of a now diminishing population of frogs. Remember this was before the advent of 'catch and release' programs as dictated by government. Soo! Having heard of a delicacy called frog legs, a bunch of us decided it might be much better than canned ragout de boulet for the evening repast. And therefore began one of the steps leading to the decimation of the amphibian genus bullfrog. A number of them gave up their earthly lives and donated their twitching legs to be sautéed up by yours truly in a cast iron frying pan. Very tasty and close to chicken. And thus they became part of summer canoe trip menus. Next time in Mexico off we go to Señor Frog's.
4. Things that taste good are bad for you.
Frogs legs taste good and if anybody starts ragging on me about eating them, it could be considered bad. Otherwise, a Mediterranean diet passes muster with the 'experts' and tends to please the palate with gusto. Poor eating habits aren't totally a matter of paleo or Neolithic survival. They can be acquired tastes. Being fed salt as a child leads to sodium dependency. Grow up with only sufficient salt to fend off the goiters and one tends to avoid packaged and restaurant fare due to being overwhelmed by salt - not to mention all the non food additives.
5. E=mc²
Yes. Mr. Einstein definitely could outthunk me. For myself, the non-equivalence between weight and mass would still be a problem to explain in mixed company - you know, geeks and non-geeks (moi being in the latter category or at least in the proto-human category). C² on paper exhibits none of the qualities encountered in a real life application such as watching the destructive power of an A-bomb drop. Only a die-hard physicist could scan the figures and instantly exclaim 'that be one big mess of energy'.
6. Your mind is not your own.
Never thought it was. Somebody else has control of my fingers for this blog post.
7. We’re all apes.
Oh boy 75 percent of the population will instantly disagree since the Earth is at best slightly over 6000 years old and except for some relatives on my mother's side, no one in my family has any apelike qualities. However, in truth we are not  apes since we are parallel lines from a common ancestor, possibly a creature with the unpronounceable name of Ouranopithecus macedoniensis - does macedoniensis mean we are all from Macedonia?
8. Cultures throughout history and around the world have engaged in ritual human sacrifice.
Unless the Mayans suddenly reappear requesting entry to professional baseball I'll shelve my worries about human sacrifice. Although with the sorry state of the British Columbia Lions - 1 & 6 as of this date - team management may want to consider sacrificing one or two under performing players (lots to choose from in this category) as an appeasement to the football gods (John Madden should know them) to draw 5 or 6 fans back to Empire 'field', 'stadium', 'place' or whatever for the one year it is needed.  As long as I'm not on the menu or weird, painted, chanting figures do not come knocking at my door, I'll rest easy that my blood will not be spilled on some cold, stone slab.
9. We’ve already changed the climate for the rest of this century.
Not our fault. A stone tablet chiseled by Zog circa 8500 BC warned about a warming trend from all the camp and cave fires, unnecessary travel all over the globe, unsanitary landfill practices - which we are still digging up in modern times - poor recycling practices - tools and bones strewn all over the cave - and the wholesale slaughter of large game animals such as the mastodons. Never mind the last 50 or 100 years, look how far the glaciers have retreated since 10 or 12 thousand years ago. Our undisciplined forefathers and mothers drove the the ice out of all of the northern hemisphere except for Greenland and some insignificant high peaks. With better canoes they might have settled Antarctica and it would now be a sunny, warm beach resort.
10. The universe is made of stuff we can barely begin to imagine.
Shadow people living in between the molecules and atoms and strings of our universe. Belly button lint which only travels in one direction. Smog doughnuts. And the fact much stuff we cannot see resides in our imagination.

Photo by Flickr user JustUptown used under Creative Commons

Friday, 13 August 2010

Odds and Ends #7

 Rampaging Chimpanzees

Not long ago it was monkeys attacking people in Japan. Apparently the simians were less than enamoured with the Olympic guests crowding into Nagano. Now the chimps in Guinea seem to be bent on retaking lost habitat. Sure hope the zoos here lock the gates at night (and be careful with dropped keys) as our wildlife are less than impressed with our encroachment. Nightmares about giant marmots already are a concern for venturing out hiking in the hills. Being ambushed by irate apes may be one danger too many! Where is Charlton Heston now that we really need him?

Nothing Boring About Watching Paint Dry

Once I got to the part about colloidal coatings, I lost interest. Despite the best efforts of the scientists involved to invoke a thrill in microscopic magic, spending an afternoon at the park watching the protective coating on a newly sprayed bench will not be on my bucket list.

Mica Sheets

Those billion year old molecules must have possessed very tough skin. Mica definitely loses to 400 thread count Egyptian cotton in the comfort department. Possibly an answer to population control once WalMart sources a cheap, third world manufacturer for a new line of 'organic linens' - heavy and scratchy mica natural - for the discerning buyer.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Para Hablar Español


Free Can Be Better!

After a few trips to Mexico relying on about thirty words left in memory from many years previous, it came to me in a flash to spend an occasional otherwise useless hour (mesmerized by the television) in learning how to speak Spanish. Or more to the point Castellano with a Mexicano flair. Dos cervezas, por favor can be extremely useful for enjoying a week at the beach but it can be somewhat limiting once even slightly removed from prime tourist areas. So off to the book store to purchase a beginners tome in Latin American Spanish acquisition in mere minutes a day. Problem with books starts with trying to pronounce words relying on weird references to words in English - say the a like the a in father while holding your tongue on the tip of your nose - difficult and unsanitary. And you quickly realize you're crucifying the language even to your own ears.  Next was a visit to the library to look over some of the CD courses, one of which  seemed to fill my needs. Actually listening to Spanish instructors gets all those vowels and consonants streaming out of your own mouth with a much greater degree of accuracy.  I think I may have mistakenly copied the CDs as they are still lingering on my MP3 player - quite handy! Then a short wait until some Spanish-English dictionaries went on sale and I began to study to my hearts content. On the next trip south, my endeavours paid off making it easier to converse with local bus drivers, store clerks and have a half-baked understanding of what I was attempting to read.  Then with Barcelona on the travel horizon, I thought listening to more Spanish would help because pleading with everyone to slow down so I can silently interpret leads to a really drawn out conversation.. Radio didn't help much with the ninety mile an hour speed demons blaring out the speakers and poor me still working on the second word. A quick jaunt through the net yielded either high cost pros or many broken down half completed sites or 3 page dissertations on the correct usage of por and para or even more esoteric grammar usages. By accident I ended up reading The Independent online  and a little reference to learning Spanish tiptoed by slowly enough for me to pounce on it with the mouse. A combination of audio and PDFs with the audio portion replayed at slower speeds with translation. Now I could get all those nuances and some everyday slang at a speed and clarity I could appreciate.  And I'm still wondering why the conspiracy to give away this resource for free; although I'm not complaining. Unbeknown to me until my arrival in Barcelona was the knowledge that Catalans much prefer to converse in catalán. But that's another story.

Monday, 9 August 2010

A Friend Indeed


Certainly does not look like great Aunt Clara from Yorkshire, at least not the way I remember her. Perhaps a few night frights have caused a restructuring or a case of minor cosmetic surgery gone completely wild. Plus she has shrunk dramatically and  lost a ton of body mass - we always warned her about those fad diets and special pre-packaged suppers. Also she has lost much of her femininity as I recall her being much bustier. I assume from the lack of arms, I should not expect the usual Xmas present next year:  a genuine lambs wool cable knit cardigan and perhaps a box of homemade biscuits. However they assure me that with a powerful eye squint the rather formless dummy, er robot, will prove to an excellent stand-in for Clara or any other far away relative or friend. And once my eyes begin to lie to me, my ears will pick up the monotone voice and Wernicke's area will hastily deceive me into believing the presence of a warm human voice. Now pardon me, but shelling out $8000 for a half built dummy with no clothes so that no one will catch me talking to myself seems quite expensive. Once I find the correct email address, I may begin to barter with the manufacturers. I'm hoping to chisel them down to about 4 thousand for just a head if they throw in a pretty red wig.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Only 50 thou or 100 thou - Mucho Cheap!


Can I breathe a sigh of relief? Yes I can. Only a couple of years ago it was going to set anyone back a cool $20 million US to hop aboard a rocket to the International Space Station. Had I started saving. Yes! Just like those old Christmas accounts at the bank, I religiously began stuffing my pennies in a sock knowing that in a millennium or so I would be blasting off into the outer regions of our atmosphere or ionosphere or somewhere at the outer limits of our globe. Back then a potential space tourist needed to submit to medicals, training, eating and bathroom protocols, spacesuit adjustment and cultural sensitivity indoctrination to cope with Russian cosmonauts. Not only that but one couldn't explore the American section without an invitation or escort (note: if an Arizonian was in charge a green card was mandatory). Now, for next to nothing you can go sub-orbital as long as you promise not to puke on Virgin spacecraft leather seats. Of course the journey will be a quickie. Straight up until you hit the glass ceiling and straight back down to Earth. No spacesuit, no docking station, no squeegee food, no baggies for bodily fluids - please take advantage of the loo prior to boarding - and no camaraderie on the orbital science station. And remember when you alight from the taxi at the spaceport to converse pleasantly with the driver plus present a generous tip, just in case Sir Richard Branson has assumed his cabbie impersonation trick once again.

Photo by Flickr user Mike Rollinger used under Creative Commons

Friday, 6 August 2010

Bats in Peril

Bats facing regional extinction in Northeastern US from rapidly spreading white-nose syndrome

They may eat their weight in insects every night but that doesn't seem to reduce the rampaging population of gluttonous mosquitoes from still covering every exposed square inch of human skin for a blood-fest.

What with all the twilight hysteria, just maybe vampires are responsible for introducing the infectious virus in an attempt protect the available blood supply by batacide.

White nose or frothing at the mouth - sign of rabies or over productive saliva glands or fungi - not that may people are willing to get close enough to differentiate.

Folklore suggests bats should only reside in belfreys or caves; therefore, colonies should cease and desist in using human habitations as condominium units.

Who are the people building bat boxes? Why would people build bat boxes for placement in the forest? Does this obsession tell us something about the psychology of the builder/placers?

Perhaps the government should fund their eviction and transportation to warmer, southerly climes where they could stay awake and do their job twelve months of the year. Ergo, no dormant period for fungi to sneak up and attach itself or themselves as the case may be.

Perhaps hospitals for bats need to be constructed, they could be driven there in batmobiles.