Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pixar Worthy. If Pixar Had a Maniacal Uncle With A Dark Sense Of Humor. Alright, Possibly A Very Dark Sense Of Humor.

Cave Johnson is the CEO and founder of Aperture Science Laboratories, which manufactures a wide range of products from bullets, affectionately called "Resolution Pellets", lasers which are nothing more than "thermal discouragement beams", to robots. A month ago, Mr. Johnson began offering a series of  investment opportunities to its investors.




For further investment opportunities, such as investing in the future of robotics click here

In addition, Aperture Laboratories is always looking for test subjects for its new portal project.  The portal device is a new quantum hole tunneler which allows participants to contribute to society until they expire pass a series of test chambers.  Here is a brief introduction of what a test subject might experience. Please be advised that regulation requires that test subjects are woken form time to time, while waiting for their turn to access the test chambers.



Corporations are the way of the future and science is always used for the benefit of mankind.

On the surface Portal 2 appears to be a puzzle solving game, but what is it really teaching our young and impressionable "children"?

1. Corporations do not always have your best interests at heart.
2. Don't trust everyone who offers you cake as a reward.
3. Science is fun, including physics.
4. Staring at art is invigorating.
5. How science is used is important.
6. Trust your instincts, that voice of authority might turn out to be nefarious or misleading or just evil.
7. Don't buy (into) everything someone is trying to sell you.
8. If science goes incredibly wrong, chances are it was caused by human error or megalomania.
9. Number nine would reveal a spoiler.
10. As would number ten.

Valuable lessons.

Cave Johnson voiced by actor J.K. Simmons.
Wheatley voiced by Stephen Merchant (actor on the original British version of The Office)

***

Are you still here? You could watch Robot Cooperation or get off the computer. Go on, get outside, enjoy the outdoors, read a book or whatever else it is you do when you're in the real physical world.
Cave Johnson, we're done here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Three Months And The Awards Go To:

I have been reading various blogs long before I started commenting.  Then, three months ago, I started a blog.  It proved to be an unexpectedly positive experience, time-consuming, but definitely worth the time, because I met some really outstanding individuals. People, who amaze me with their kindness, creativity, intelligence, humor and generosity.

Good folk, browncoats, fellow bloggers, "band mates" and collaborators.  I would not have named it "followers", but fellowers, because this feels more like a fellowship of bloggers.  Yes, I am talking about you, you support and encourage me and each other and make the time to show up, comment, laugh, share and support. That more than anything else makes blogging worthwhile.

In this first round of award giving, I have to acknowledge those who pushed, coerced, shoved, encouraged me to start a blog.  Without you this blog would not exist, as I had decided quite some time ago that I was not going to start a blog.  I knew that creating a "niche" blog would not hold my interest, and maintaining multiple blogs would be impossible.

I wondered if anyone would continue to read this blog, if they discovered that it would not be a humor, science or art blog, but a (I'm not sure what category this belongs to) blog.  Astonished to discover that yes, no matter where my mind takes me, there you are, regardless of demographics, time-zones and RL. You show up and continue to and for that I am grateful.

For someone who did not think much about social media or connecting with strangers on-line, I found the blogosphere to be an enlightening experience and met bloggers, who I am starting to consider "friends", virtual, but definitely more than "ghosts in the machine".

But enough about me, this is about you, for making me smile, think, laugh, chuckle and ponder. You amaze me through the things you share and create.

The blogosphere rewards our efforts with blog awards and I was recently given the "Cherry on Top" award by Katsidhe. Thank you, Katsidhe. I am paying it forward and back to these bloggers:

The following awards go to (in alphabetical blog order):

1. Paulsifer42 
2. Claire Beynon
3. A little Sprite
4. Vinny C
5. Laoch
6. Jono
7. Kev D
8. Marylinn Kelly
9.Robert the Skeptic
10. dbs



And introducing the Great Commenter Award (holding a stylus is like drawing with an alien):


Thank you all for including me in this shared experience through your comments and blogs.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Talking About February in April And Solar Cycles In 2011

As some of you may have noticed, there was a time "meme" going around back in February. As always, I look for the reason behind a pattern.  For those of us who experience the four seasons and particularly winter, February is often a time of contemplation and pondering. Unsurprisingly, I noticed it in posts and blogs.

There may be a simple explanation, an instinctual genetic memory that this is a time of hibernation, when the elements are not conducive to spending too much time in the great outdoors, when natural sunlight is less available and the Vitamin D it produces is reduced.  Less natural energy, more time indoors.

Unlike our ancestors, modern civilization expects us to ignore Father Winter, does not allow us to naturally slow down a little, take the time to allow ourselves to engage in creative projects indoors. Use up the stores we have created in the fall. Instead we are asked to continue "hunting and gathering", force our natural rhythms into hyperdrive.

So far 2011 has brought more natural disasters, tragedy and significant world changing events. As a blogging community we responded with pensiveness and humor that has not come out of hibernation yet.


Is Space Weather to blame?

For the last few years the weather has been "unusually active", from floods to tornadoes to snow in regions where it is not normally experienced. In some parts of the northern hemisphere, spring has forgotten to make an appearance this year. Climatologists claim it was the worst spring in 50 years. An active solar cycle, El Nino/La Nina, climate change, oceanic currents are all contributing factors to the recent "unusual" weather patterns witnessed or experienced around the globe. Globally, we have seen an "unusually" active cold and flu season.

The effects of living on a spinning planet hurtling through space held on its yearly course solely by the gravitational pull of our sun have been felt. Ever-changing, a chaotic dynamic equilibrium in a constant state of flux and change. Nature's way, from shifting tectonic plates to space weather.

More contemplation than theory, I wonder how celestial events influence human behavior. There are species and ecosystems on this planet whose rise and fall in population correlate with the 11 year sunspot cycle. Sol is in a very active phase at the moment.  Is there any correlation between that and the recent revolutions we have witnessed in some parts of the world?  Is Sol's activity the causative factor for some of the recent natural disasters? How is everything interconnected?

I'm "unusually" contemplative for the month of April.

Friday, April 15, 2011

This Is Lucky

Terry is one of the most manipulative women I know. At the end of our conversations, I always end up doing something I was not planning on or did not think I had time for. One evening, a few years ago, she made one of the most memorable calls and I am grateful that I picked up.

Terry: Hello, it's been awhile.
Me: Hi Terry, how have you been?
Terry: Fine, racing around, the usual. We're on my way back from "Unpleasantville". (Terry does not waste time talking about pleasantries or the weather, she gets right to the point).
Me: Long drive. How many?
Terry: 25 were scheduled for tomorrow morning.
Me: That's a lot, they called you?
Terry: Yes, pick them up or we'll destroy them.
Me: *Sigh*. It never ends.
Terry: I'm hoping you can take one.
Me: Terry, we're at maximum, really I can't take more.
Terry: It's a kitten.
Me: Kittens are easy to adopt, everyone wants a kitten, Terry...
Terry: It's a special needs kitten.
Me: *Pause*. Terry, we have Spawn, (not his real name, but it should have been).
Terry: Just separate them, even if it's just for a few weeks, until we can find a permanent home.
Me: Terry, two is our maximum, I don't have the time to supervise a special needs cat...
Terry: Kitten. Gorgeous little tabby. Very friendly, absolutely adorable. Purrs constantly.
Me: Terry...
Terry: You are sooo good at this. You're our cat whisperer, no one wanted Spawn because he was so aggressive. (I told you she's manipulative).
Me: He still mauls me.
Terry: He's alive. What's a little bite?
Me: *Sigh*. What kind of special needs?
Terry: Healthy, but some mobility issues.
Me: Fine. We'll foster him, but just for a couple of weeks. Is he Vet checked?
Terry: Yes. Healthy.  My battery is low and I still have some calls to make, I'll drop him off later on.
Me: Hello? Hello? Terry...?

***

Lucky was about 8 weeks old when I got him.  He could not walk, kept rolling to the side and lost his balance.  It was like living with a drunk toddler. Lucky has Feline Cerebellar Hypoplasia, a condition that affects his motor skills, but not his higher functioning.  It usually happens when a pregnant cat (usually un-vaccinated stray or feral) contracts an infection or is malnourished.  The cerebellum of the kitten, while in the womb, doesn't develop properly and the signals aren't getting to the muscles.  It is not contagious and does not cause any pain.

I thought it was important to share Lucky's story with you. There are bigger problems in the world, but if you're thinking about adopting a cat, saving a CH cat can be an incredibly rewarding experience. I came across this video some time ago, when I was looking for some practical tips on how I could adapt his environment to suit Lucky's needs. I still enjoy watching it, Charley (the CH cat in the video) is now 5 years old and doing well.

This is Charley:



CH cats do not deserve pity, but a chance at life. As I type, Lucky is playing with one of his toys.  He's the friendliest little guy, gets along with everyone and does not let the occasional tumble deter him from living his life to the fullest.  He enjoys belly rubs, hydrotherapy (in the bathtub), daily massages, long walks on the beach and probably thinks everyone else walks funny. He reminds me everyday that life is not perfect, but pretty good.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bad Days, Just Like Parkour, Are All In Your Head

According to science, "bad days" do not actually exist.  The concept that the entire universe has conspired to create an entire day of misery just for you, is remarkably egocentric.

However, bad days do exist and they start the moment your alarm clock decides that it is now observing its very own timezone and keeps it a secret until you get home, go to sleep and get woken in the middle of the night, when it makes its celebratory announcement: "TA DA!"

Back to the beginning. On such unlucky days, rather than oversleep, something or someone will wake me just in time to engage in endless, (useless yet soothing), swearing, because not only will I be late, but there is no time to eat or shower.  Panicked, I spring out of bed and find myself entangled in bedsheets that are starting their next career as a parachute. I'll count your threads later!

Potential disaster averted, maybe a few bruises, who needs that little mutant of a vestigial toe anyway, more expletives, (useless yet soothing), I am now pumped full of cortisol and adrenaline, ready to fight or flight.  Barefooted, I stumble and curse my way into the hallway, where I step in something warm and wet, "WHAT THE...? UGH!" only to discover a strategically placed hairball stuck to the sole of my foot.

Dragging bedsheets behind me I am limping and hopping on one foot, while the other is used heel only, until I can wipe it off with something other than carpet.  No time for a shower, the soiled foot has to undergo a quick disinfection. A true yoga master of flexibility, the foot is lifted into the sink and shocked into self-awareness by being blasted with cold water since absolutely nothing works in the morning.  This makes me howl, stumble backward on the one remaining leg (whose stupid idea was it to make us bipeds), lose my balance and wake up in the bathtub.

There is no time to rest! In a blur of activity I manage to put on something that resembles professional attire, step out the front door in a race against time and financial setbacks, only to discover that my beloved old car is not where I left it.  While my brain is still preoccupied by the lack of post-fast nutrients and therefore unable to comprehend this new development, my subconscious has already decided that calling Officer "FML, I hate the public" is not an efficient use of my time at this point.

I will be asked time-consuming questions of complete insignificance: "Are you suuuure you parked it there? When was the last time you saw your vehicle?" and "Are you certain old Uncle Bob did not borrow it again?"

Yes! Last night! I don't own an Uncle Bob! Can you just write the report and find it, the insurance company owes me money!

Calling a taxi as I run down the street in no particular direction is not feasible, as my cell phone is still at home, nesting comfortably in its warm and cozy charger. Of course, halfway to the public transportation system, I vaguely recall that I own a bicycle, which I just recently oiled and tuned and which would have transported me to my place of employ considerably faster and with less squeezing and shoving than any other mode of transportation during the morning rush hour.



Rush Hour by Slinkachu


This is likely the one day that the entrance to the deep bowels of sliding doors has either chosen to follow up on Mrs. Tripplecott's tip "I smell like gas," closed for renovation, maintenance or saw me coming.  Diverted, I race toward my destination, while visualizing spectacular Parkour skills, turning public spaces into my personal bowling alley, sending Starbucks cups and peop...., uummm....no, just Starbucks cups, flying. Profusely apologetic, "Ramming through. Sorry. Pardon me," I plough through morning commuters, because even in dire circumstances; manners matter.

Finally, I arrive at the big building, formerly known as my last place of employment, my light blue shirt transformed into a shiny, saturated, deep shade of sapphire. Nice! Somewhere along my journey I lost a shoelace, my dignity, but in exchange picked up a sequined purse and some fliers.

I dislocate my shoulder while trying to open the entrance door, which refuses to do so.  It appears that in my brief absence, my colleagues lost their morale and motivation and went home. Frantically, I wave at the security guard, who is deeply engrossed in reading his book "10 Steps Toward Your Next 10 Steps". I manage to catch his attention and watch him swagger toward me in slow motion, twirling his ultimate Weapon of Power, the Key, attached to his belt by a retractable chain.

"WHAT" *gasp* IS GOING *wheeze* ON?!" I wheeze.

It would be a really bad day if I told you that he said: "It's Sunday."

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Weekend Writing In 5 Minutes Or Less

Add.: This is is a fun creative exercise where every person gets to continue where the previous person left off in 5 minutes or less. No editing, no drafts, just whatever comes to mind. Have fun. (To those who already graciously commented thank you, I apologize for not leaving the instructions the first time around).

He had no recollection of how he had ended up here, wherever here actually was.  Disoriented, he looked around but could not discern much detail. A strangely familiar scent lingered in the air. He thought he heard footsteps. "Hello?" he called, when...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Renewal

Spring 2011

Old-growth forest
The annual migration of this Homo sapiens is triggered by a compelling instinct to gather field sketching supplies, some food, a thermos and escape from the man-made to the nature-made.

Forests are my destination of choice, one of the places where cerebral hemispheres can feel whole again; allowed to act as one, to observe, sense, marvel, wonder, imagine and create.  Away from the incessant chatter and noise of humanity, the urban grey of cities of concrete, there is an immediate sense of calm and welcome noise.

I can hear my footsteps, crunching on leaves and twigs. I can hear the sudden silence as I pass by flocks of birds chatting in their natural skyscrapers. I pause. After a while, they resume their conversations.  A rush of excited calm as I watch nature's builders using natural materials to build their homes.  Amused, I wonder about their decision making process. What are birds thinking when they build and weave their nests? This twig goes here. Or is it trial and error?  Does this twig go here? I see nests woven into branches, precariously close to the very tip to avoid even the most agile predators. How do they remain there? How is that special branch picked? Do they assess sway and give?  Yearly construction of the impossible, without tools. Birds, one of nature's evolutionary architects and engineers.

I settle on a spot, arrange my supplies; paints, brushes, pens and pencils. A warm up with quick sketches and studies. Time and memory are no longer perceived. My lungs are learning to breathe deeply again, while my mind is focused on color, shape and perspective. The weight of thoughts is quickly discarded.

I will return, but nothing rivals that first renewal of the year.

Friday, April 1, 2011

HumorouS VideoS. The Living with Cats edition. Redux. Bonus: Amazing Discovery of New Penguin Colony

Since it made not sense that the YouTube user who originally posted these videos decided to commence legal action against him/herself, I kept the original post, checked back and there they were. May have been a glitch or the matter was resolved over a bottle of fermented potatoes.

Who moved my potato?



"WAS THERE SOME PART OF DO NOT TOUCH MY POTATO THAT YOU DID NOT UNDERSTAND? 
WAS I SPEAKING RUSSIAN IN FRENCH?
NO?
THEN DO NOT MOVE OR THROW MY POTATO IN THE GARBAGE AGAIN, HUUUMAN!!!!!!"
Note: This is an example of aggressive/excited play. Probably a repetitive game as the potato must remain under the fridge at all times.

Since I live with them, I sometimes wonder who is entertaining whom: 


What is it?
It's a mouse? I'll stalk it down. It's not a mouse. Oh! It's moving. I'm a bunny.
Bunnies are scared. I'm a PREDATOR!
*freezes* Whoa! I'm a meerkat?
"Curiosity...". Naaah. Approach with caution.
Back up. Back up. Phew. It stopped.
Here it comes again. I'm a squirrel? A kangaroo? I have 2 paws. No, I have 4. What do I do with them? I'm so confused.
Oh, yeah?! Are you movin' at me? Cuz you ain't movin' much.
I AM CAT! I CHEW YOU!

Just in case you have not seen this amazing new discovery of an astonishing colony of penguins or the previous videos are pulled again just to drive me crazy:





While it may seem like this is turning into a video blog, I have simply been too busy to write, but thought these were worth sharing. Have a nice weekend.