Friday, April 30, 2010
They say that composing photos with strong diagonals will communicate feelings of energy and vitality. "They" being the sort of people who say that kind of thing with a straight face. In any case, it's a dark grey friday in April, and it would be charitable to say I'm half awake, and it's time to head off to the office for an Important Meeting. So I figure a little "energy and vitality" can't hurt, even if it's complete voodoo.
Posted by brx0 _ at 9:35 AM
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Found a tutorial on how to do a "sketch effect" in GIMP, making photos kinda-sorta resemble line drawings, assuming the person doing the line drawings was someone with talent, i.e. not me. I mean, maybe I shouldn't run myself down like that; I can do stick figures, and stick figures seem to be working out ok for xkcd.
Anyway, here are a few preliminary results from last night.
Posted by brx0 _ at 10:06 AM
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Ok, technically these crabs aren't attacking. They're basically just sitting there watching the aquarium tourists wander by. But nobody's going to click on post titled "crabs not doing much", are they?
If you search YouTube for "crab attack", I'd guess rougly 90% of the results are actually crabs trying to look threatening as they run away, chased by camera-wielding divers. If you're going to do that and insist the crab's really attacking you and not the other way around, you might as well go all the way and accuse the crab of hiding WMDs before you chase it. Just sayin'.
Posted by brx0 _ at 8:02 PM
Sunday, April 25, 2010
The great thing about lizards is that they're really good at holding still. They also manage to look rather droll as they hold still, even though they aren't actually thinking much of anything at all, on account of being lizards and all.
As with the preceding frog photo, I really ought to have made a note of what sort of lizard this is while I was at the zoo. Figuring it out after the fact from the zoo website isn't really working out.
Posted by brx0 _ at 3:58 PM
I probably ought to have made a note on what kind of frog (or toad, possibly) this was. I seem to recall it was in the "Predators of the Serengeti" exhibit, but the zoo's website doesn't mention there being any frogs (or toads) in said exhibit.
Posted by brx0 _ at 3:49 PM
Posted by brx0 _ at 3:45 PM
Saturday, April 24, 2010
A couple of ocelots at the zoo. One was asleep, while the other was pacing the enclosure rather rapidly, as if he'd rather not be in there. It was, frankly, one of those moments that makes me skeptical about keeping animals in zoos. Some species appear to do ok, but others just don't seem to fare so well, mentally or physically, in enclosed spaces like this. I do understand the education and conservation arguments for zoos, and I doubt I'd ever get to see a live ocelot otherwise, and I'm not actually arguing against zoos, in general. But that doesn't make it any less unsettling when you see a cat pacing and looking trapped.
Surprisingly, ocelots do occur in the wild in a couple of places in the US. There's a small population in South Texas, and one was recently sighted in Arizona as well. If they happened to live in more forward-thinking parts of the country, this might be an opportunity to lure in well-heeled ecotourists, paying big bucks for a chance to maybe see an ocelot, or a jaguarundi, or even a jaguar in the wild. I usually roll my eyes at the whole ecotourism thing, but it really does seem like there's an opportunity here.
Posted by brx0 _ at 2:54 AM
Sunday, April 18, 2010
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A few photos of the bridge over the Wilson River at Tillamook, just south of the famous cheese factory. Although it looks a bit worse for wear, it still seems like an absurdly grand and out-of-scale bridge for the location. The Wilson River isn't very big, and the site of the bridge is in the midst of flat muddy farm country. Maybe the location is more challenging to build on than it looks. The wikipedia article (above) indicates that this was a very early bridge of its type, so possibly the state prototyped the design here before using it where it was really needed. Dunno.
As one commenter notes below, this is a Conde McCullough bridge (like many bridges along US 101), so it does have historical significance to Oregon. It's not anywhere as big or showy as its better-known siblings in Newport, Florence, Coos Bay, etc.. You can see a distinct family resemblance to other smaller McCullough bridges, though, like the bridge in Oregon City even though the latter is a through arch design.
I should probably point out that these were taken from a moving vehicle, and we didn't stop to take a closer look at the bridge, much less walk across it. I don't think I've made this clear before, but the whole walking across thing is strictly a Portland-area project. Elsewhere it's strictly optional, especially when the area smells heavily of dairy cows.
Btw, this post is getting tons of hits from some somewhere on Facebook. Not sure what that's all about. Anyone want to enlighten me? Thx. Mgmt.
Updated 8/31/10: Aha. We have linkage from the Tillamook Headlight-Herald group on Facebook. One commenter whines about me mentioning the odor, and implies that we city folk don't know where cheese comes from. I guess on the theory that if you love sausage, you ought to love everything about sausage factories too.
I was around cows a lot as a kid, actually. My uncle had a few dozen at least; it seemed like hundreds at the time. I helped out with the cows now and then. I was hauled out of bed in the middle of the night more than once to come watch a calf being born, I guess because it was supposed to be educational or something. And I gotta say, I didn't like the smell of cows then, and I don't much care for it now either. And I do like cheese, and I'm not going to apologize for that. Stop me if you can.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
A large male mandrill at the zoo. He just sat there impassively, watching zoo visitors stream by, as if we were the exhibit. I wish I knew what he was thinking about.
Posted by brx0 _ at 12:10 PM
Friday, April 16, 2010
Some camas flowers, taken at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Camas roots (along with the unrelated wapato) were traditional dietary staples for many Native American tribes of the region. It surprises me a little that, despite the whole foodie/locavore thing that's been so popular of late, I've never heard of anyone trying to put either tuber back on local plates. It probably doesn't help that they're both marsh plants, so cultivation's going to take a bit more work and commitment than, say, heirloom tomatoes would. On the demand side, I'm not sure how many people have heard of either plant or know there's a long tradition of eating them. Despite the whole "eating locally" thing, it doesn't seem like the question of what's actually indigenous to the area comes up very often, except for salmon obviously.
For my part, I don't know where one might obtain camas or wapato roots, and I've never tasted either one, so I can't really give any practical advice here. But I thought I'd toss the idea out there, in the event some ambitious and creative local chef stumbles across this humblest of humble blogs. Or hey, why should chefs have all the fun -- as tubers, they're full of starch and thus (one would assume) fermentable, and distillable. Camas root vodka, anyone?
Posted by brx0 _ at 10:49 PM
Thursday, April 15, 2010
A big sea anemone at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. I don't recall the signage explaining what species of anemone it is, but I'm guessing it's probably a Giant Green Anemone (Anthopleura xanthogrammica), since it looks about right.
As a kid, and like many kids, I thought it was really cool to stick a finger in these guys and watch them fold up. As an adult, it surprises me a little that people still let their kids do this in these safety-paranoid times. I mean, when the anemone sticks to you and starts folding up, it's attempting to sting you and haul you in as lunch, it's just that (like most but not all anemones) it's unable to sting through human skin.
I have a gut feeling we're just waiting for someone's kid to get stung in a paper cut and have a one-in-a-million anaphylactic reaction to a sea anemone. Then there'll be a big media frenzy, and Important Safety Tips, and accusations of bad parenting, and that'll be that for playing in tidepools, yet another item on the ever-lengthening list of things people just shouldn't do anymore. Although I suppose the long-harrassed anemones and other tidepool fauna would breathe a sigh of relief -- if only they had actual brains or central nervous systems of any kind, or gills or lungs to breathe with, for that matter.
So -- generally speaking -- there's no real-world harm in letting a giant green anemone try to nibble on your finger, except maybe bad karma if you believe in that sort of thing (i.e. in some future life, it will be the human, and you the anemone, and you're minding your own business, just waiting for something tasty to wander by. Then it comes along, sticks its finger in you, then rips it away, and laughs cruelly at your attempt to eat it.) In any case, in other parts of the world it may not be such a fun idea to wander around teasing anemones. I haven't come across a single comprehensive list of anemones to avoid, but I've seen a few mentions of something called a "Hell's Fire Anemone" (Actinodendron plumosum) which is apparently bad news. Can't say too I'm disappointed those beasties live in the tropics and not here. There are undoubtedly others you're better off avoiding, too. This page has some general first aid tips on anemone stings if it comes to that.
A couple of pages about giant green anemones at Exploring Rocky Shores of Southern Oregon Coast and orange county nature. The latter points out that California has rather strict laws about never, ever touching any living organism on the coast. So while the anemone itself can't sting you, Officer Friendly's taser just might. The first link suggests that, rather than sticking your finger in the anemone, you bring along some raw fish or shrimp and actually feed the anemones instead of teasing them. I suppose if you really wanted to watch sea anemones in action (and traumatize your kids in the process) you could take it a step further and bring a bag of live feeder goldfish for them to sting and reel in. Not sure that would be legal, though, and there would undoubtedly be plenty of bad karma in it, if you believe in that sort of thing.
Posted by brx0 _ at 12:55 AM