Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Humorous Video. The Living With Cats Edition, revised.

Remember this? Still wondering why you are waking up before the alarm goes off? Or why you are still feeling tired when you do? This may serve as a little reminder. Provided that you actually live with cats, otherwise you may have other issues.

Author's disclaimer: I do not play silly games like hide and chase. I certainly do not play throw pen off the table and I will pick it up until feline tires of it, nor do I give up my favorite chair, just so furry can nap a few more minutes. In addition, I do not use words like "cute" when they block out the light with a paw over their eyes while sleeping.  Obviously, I also do not watch "cat videos". The author of this blog denies any such ludicrous allegations.

Addendum: There were two more videos posted here, which have been taken down by Youtube since I posted them.  Of course, I am now contemplating Murphy's law and thanks to a fellow blogger, Robert the Skeptic, for alerting me.

Friday, March 25, 2011

What Do You Want To Know?

The triple tragedy that continues to affect Japan and the global community has led to an uncertainty about what to post.  In the week following March 11, 2011 the usually chatty and verbose blogosphere took a collective gasp of shock and disbelief. Some bloggers who post daily, did not, others declared their support and sympathy for Japan, for many words failed.  A few continued with their usual self-promotion.

During that first week, as I mentioned, I turned away from the media with an increasing sense of disdain, which over the course of the week turned into aggravation and disgust at the almost complete lack of factually correct information, the ongoing fearmongering and worst of all, the visual exploitation of human suffering.

I could not escape it altogether though, because in RL friends and relatives contacted me for information. While I know more than average, I know less than I ever will.  However, I was surprised at the ongoing misinformation that was being disseminated by journalists and so-called correspondents, who had no scientific background to comment or report on these events.

Early on, a relative informed me about the "explosion of the nuclear reactor" and I found myself explaining that this will not be another Chernobyl, that this was likely, as it turned out to be, a hydrogen explosion and that the most concerning information she should listen for was whether the "containment" had been breached.

I am not an expert in this field, but in RL I turned to science sites that I was familiar with for updates and information.  There is comfort in knowledge, the focus is on facts; quantifiable and measurable to the best of current technology and abilities. Scientists are often portrayed as cold and detached, but at times it is precisely that rational detachment that allows people in the science fields to function and cope in a crisis.  A detachment that allows analysis, without belittling the human tragedy or catastrophizing the events.

Blogging became somewhat irrelevant, the posts that I had planned to put up prior to March 11, 2011, were humorous and it somehow seemed insensitive to pretend that it was "business as usual".  In RL, the last 2 weeks were very busy and I did not have the time to write the posts that I believed to be the most appropriate and useful.  Posts that provided some hopefully useful information.

I have noticed too many comments on the aforementioned science sites, that showed how desperately people were seeking basic answers with respect to earthquakes, nuclear fallout, nuclear plants and power, among other topics.  It saddened me how apologetic these commenters were for not remembering their basic science classes.  I saw far too many comments that included "this will sound like a stupid question, but could someone please explain...".  I also noticed the searches done on my own blog and decided that I was going to post a simple FAQ in order to fill in some of the gaps left behind by the media, which has already turned its attention to more "sensational footage".

I already have some topics in mind, but if the readers of this blog have specific questions, I will do my best to answer them in an upcoming post. If you have suggestions, questions, topics of interest, feel free to comment below or just comment.  For now, do something creative, watch a game, go see a movie, spend time with loved ones or go for a walk and just breathe.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sightseeing With An Artist. What do you see?

What do you see?

A street in Grottaglie, Italy.  Look closer...(Click on images for an even closer look).

The High Life

An English Heritage Property at Belsay Hall, Newcastle.

On closer inspection:


Sightseeing in Grottaglie, Italy.

It's a hot day.

Wet 'n' Wild

Late for work? Rushed to leave the house?

A Close Shave

Lost and looking for directions?


Feel like demonstrating?


Meeting Nessie

Fantastic Voyage

Painting en plain air at the Crystal Palace, London

Antscape Painting

Slinkachu is a street artist living in London, UK.  In 2006, he started the Little People Project.  He places his miniature installations in various cities, photographs them and then leaves them for people to discover.  An artistic social commentary on the isolation and alienation that people can experience in the concrete grey of urban environments.  Clever, at times poignant, ironic and humorous. His work has been featured in group and solo exhibitions and his first book was released in 2008.  According to Slinkachu himself, he "just wanted to make people smile". Since he has been making me and many others smile for years, I believe that he has accomplished his goal.

Slinkachu's blog can be found at Little People, a tiny street art project, on which he posts and updates his installations. Prints of his photographs can be viewed and purchased at the Andipa Gallery.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Japan, The Internet and Humanity

The Great Wave Off  Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai
Natural disasters such as earthquakes are a matter of when, not if. I was aware of the fact that there is a subduction of the Pacific plate under the Eurasian plate.  A natural process of living on Earth's crust, disconnected tectonic plates, floating on magma.  Millions of years from now they will eventually join to form one super-continent again, like Pangaea.

We still don't have the technology to predict when these disasters will occur, but technology allows us to reduce the cost of human lives. The fear, at present, is always that if it happens off-shore, that tsunamis will be created.  While we can prepare for earthquakes, prevent the loss of life and damage through building earthquake-resistant buildings, we still don't have tsunami-resistant measures.  Tsunamis are far more devastating, a series of waves, known as the "tsunami wave train", with a current warning time of only 10 to 20 minutes in regions close to the epicenter. There is simply too little time.

High magnitude earthquakes occur every 200 years or so, scientists stated that we were "overdue" in certain regions.  Japan lies on the Pacific-Philippine-Eurasian triple plate junction and is therefore seismically very active. When it happened though, I could only think of putting up a quick post warning those living near the coastal regions of the pacific basin, who may read blogs before listening to the news.

Still, it is incomprehensible, horrific and I cannot begin to imagine how terrifying it was for those affected.  In real life as in the blogosphere we live in a global community where friends and family are spread around the world. To date, all have checked in and are thankfully safe, but shaken up.  To extend my deepest sympathies and condolences, while absolutely sincere, seems rehearsed, but words fail me.  There is a feeling of shock and helplessness; at times like these, I desperately want to reward a sniffer dog.

Over the next few days, the media will continue to show us an onslaught of devastating images, eye-witness reports and cycle through "breaking" news. A sensationalized show of devastation and suffering, with incorrect facts and tag words presented by, at times, inappropriately over-enthusiastic reporters. I will not be watching.

I turned to the internet, where I can choose the news I want to see and hear.  In a new age of being connected at an instant and global level, I found humanity at its best.  Within minutes twitter topics had gone up, Google People Finder had stepped in, seismologists gave quick and informative updates. Amazed, I scrolled as people from virtually Every.Single.Country extended their sympathies and support, countless voices as one: "We are with you, Japan!"  Geographical, economic and religious borders were irrelevant in this global display of support.  For those in Japan, who lost mobile service or the internet, they were still able to communicate.  Some of the most touching messages came from people in Christchurch, NZ, who are still dealing with the recovery from the devastation and damage they experienced. Proclamations of gratitude for Japan's aid and that now they would be there to help the Japanese.

It will take time to assess the damage and years to recover.  Aftershocks will continue for months as the tectonic plates adjust, but I cannot help but be impressed by the advanced technology of Japan.  So far, the death toll, while tragic has been mercifully low. The fact that Tokyo's buildings withstood an 8.9, minimizing the loss of human lives and injury, is a testimony to Japanese engineering and highly advanced earthquake preparedness and disaster proofing.  Technology and engineering which is already testing new tsunami-resistant homes. Homes that may be build one day with a sacrificial first floor, that water can just flow through.  When it comes to natural disasters there is no such thing as being over-prepared.

And then I heard an excited announcement: "MARU IS SAFE!"

Maru, Japan's most famous cat, has entertained many with his antics. A lovable, clumsy dork of a cat, who has devoted his life to fitting into boxes. Safe. A comfort amidst all the tragedy.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Losing time

February has been a short, yet busy month and as always when RL takes over, I notice that time seems to speed up the busier things are and slow down when bored by something that makes me want to doze off. The latter exercise usually involves watching untalented performers present something.  A similar form of perceived "time dilation" is experienced while testing the excitement of involuntary falling due to gravity.

The perception of time, while it exists, is an abstract construct and has been contemplated, remembered, forgotten, measured, evaluated, written about ad nauseam and infinitum. If the expansion of the universe is speeding up, how will that affect time? Is time infinite or will time eventually end?

Every now and then, I lose a day. I'm not certain why this happens or how one can misplace a day, but the mind has convinced itself that something has gone missing, which cannot be found or recaptured.

However, this time around I lost a day for an entire week.

On Monday, it felt like it was Tuesday.
On Tuesday, I had already moved on to Wednesday, and therefore the middle of the week.
By Wednesday, I kept reminding myself that it was not Thursday. Whispered questions throughout the day of the "It's Wednesday, right?" variety, rewarded me with stares of you're weirder than usual.
On Thursday, my mind failed to comprehend why it was not Friday.
On Friday, miraculously, I seemed to find my place in the space-time continuum again. Briefly. It only lasted a moment.
On Saturday, I was reminded that it was time to organize and declutter. My mind was focused on moving miscellaneous objects through space and time.
On Sunday....

When am I?

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Woodland Faerie

According to the definition of fairies, a fairy is "a tiny imaginary being in human form, depicted as clever, mischievous, and possessing magical powers".  Obviously, an error occurred during the transcription of ancient texts by non-magical humans, who interpreted imaginative as "imaginary".

Scholars refer to Sprites Talenticus, commonly known as the woodland fairy, as "good folk" and "people of peace". The woodland fairy of the fairy kingdom, are rarely seen by the human eye as they are known to be "shy and timid".  While it may be true that most fairies avoid human contact, this is certainly not true about one particular fairy belonging to the species Sprites Talenticus, whom I have recently met.

This fairy's magical powers include chanting, which can lead someone to start a blog, or cause mischief on other blogs. If you lost touch with your inner child, this fairy can help you find him/her again.

She also possesses the magical power of creativity; she paints, writes poetry, makes things and crochetnsing, crochecutl, crochesolves, anyhow, she uses string, yarn, wool? and needles, or magic, to create book worms, bags and items that we have yet to see.  As you'll discover when you visit her, she is a very talented fairy.

She is also quite powerful, she deals with anything the elements throw at her with a resilience and strength that in the short time that I have known her, I have come to greatly admire.  Like most fairies, Sprites Talenticus is very territorial and fiercely protective of her incredible and amazing family.  Anyone who dares to annoy her should be afraid...wwerry afraid.

It was recently brought to my attention that this fairy, who calls herself  A Little Sprite is celebrating a birthday.  It is only appropriate that I should give her an offering.

Since she is also a very funny fairy, unpredictable as all fairies are, one never knows whether one of her comments will elicit a chuckle, a laugh or lead to a sudden urge to be silly.  Among the hilarious moments of her life that she shares with those who have met her, are encounters with bats who throw mangoes at her and "horizontal rock-climbing" (patent pending).

So without further ado, a little Sprite is presented with this award by the Count himself, who knows about "batty" things and is asked to answer the following question:

"Do your witty answers pop instantly into your head when you read the post with an immediate urge to hit the comment button or do you have to sit and ponder?"

Have a great Birthday, Little Sprite, wishing you happiness and that your wishes come true.

Recent reports indicate an unusually high level of fairy sightings. Reports of fairy activity have come in from these locations: Here and Here and Here and Here...