I am so dashing right now. You wouldn't believe it.
"Dashing" smells a lot like bactine, for some reason.
We fed the chickens leftover pizza from the pizza-eating contest yesterday. The chickens leapt upon the pizza with many delighted cacklings and immediately pecked at and devoured all the olives. I think maybe the shiny black texture of the olives is very visible to chicken optical processors. Like shiny little beetle bagels.
Mmm, beetle bagel.
As part of a joke gone horribly wrong, I ended up in a pizza-eating contest today. I won't name the other participants
A praying mantis was hanging on to the outside of the window screen this afternoon. Whenjuli walked past it to get the mail, it waved its legs ferociously at her. It was
juli and I were at a carniceria when a song came over the intercom, and we turned to eachother and said, "Are they playing ... Flogging Molly? At the carniceria?" They weren't; it was the Spanish folk metal band Mägo de Oz, playing Fiesta Pagana, and it was excellent indeed.
juli and I bought some fresh-made tofu, and she fried it up with hot peppers and green prickly ash oil (a thing I did not know existed before a month ago) and it was even more excellent. Perhaps someday my tongue will stop tingling.
Today was windy with creaky tree noises, in an early-autumn sort of way. Everything is still green here, but there's a sense of autumn standing patiently outside the door of the world, holding a lantern that spills soft golden light over the threshold. There were a few fallen alder leaves in the back pasture, which delighted the sheep and goats to no end. They ate the fallen leaves like potato chips, with many loud happy crunchings, and fought over who got the last couple. CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH.
Not much to photograph, except the two places where cave-ins have made holes in the roof, all a-green and ferny.
( Largeish image )
It is a cut sheet of black paper, on top of a sheet of white paper. The white paper has a few holes in it to let the bottom paper, which is red, show through in a couple of places. The holes in the white paper have to line up exactly with the holes in the black paper, so that the red is outlined by black.
It was ridiculously difficult to get the holes in the white sheet in the correct places. I would carefully mark and cut them, and then three quarters of them would align and the last few would be off in the middle of nowhere. Took me four tries, and a special rush delivery of swears from the manufacturer. And it's still not perfect, merely good enough.
There is actually a word for the process of lining up the parts of a layered image: registration. (Used mostly in printmaking and photography.) I like that. The existence of that word says: you are not alone, others have done this and burned through truckloads of swears, others will do it after you. This is surprisingly comforting and inspiring. Jargon as the mark of shared experiences.
I hope the storm sticks around a while, won't be dark here for ages.
Question: How would the Bulbasaur Pokemon work?
Answer: ( video game biology )
I was inspired by Lynd Ward woodcuts, like this one:
where the image is formed more by texture than by shape. There's the cross-hatched sail, the squiggly wave, the solid boat, the heavy striped sky, the jittery person, etc.
I thought I could do something similar, with three textures from the mountain:
- lacey leaves and flowers,
- big blocky chunks of rock, and
- spiny trees.
And the photo I was working from:
I changed the asters to lupines, because lupines rule and asters drool, clearly.
For this year's Midwinter Festival of Unbridled Consumerism, juli got me a khadag! Actually, five khadags.
Khadags, which are a blue Mongolian version of the white Tibetan prayer scarf (khata), are one of my favorite things about Mongolia. You can't go anywhere without seeing one tied to a signpost or truck tailgate or doorframe. They cost about ten cents. Actual religious sites of any type (not just buddhist) frequently have so many khadags that you can't quite tell what is under them, they're just fluttering mounds of blue and wind.
Anything you might need luck with? Tie a khadag to it!
Did a good thing happen and you would like it to happen again? Tie a khadag to it!
Did a bad thing happen and you would definitely not like it to happen again? Tie a khadag to it!
They're a beautiful color, and they are everywhere. All birds nests in Mongolia contain some blue thread, including one massive raven nest of bleached bone and blue silk we saw. Students tie them to school fences to wish for luck in exams. I loved the sense of peering into the depths of time, of seeing reinforced hems, all that remained of old silk khadags worn by the wind, next to tattered cotton and new rayon ones. I liked the evidence that says: this place was important to someone once, for at least long enough to knot a scarf around a tree.
juli and I somehow returned from Mongolia without any khadags, and as omnipresent as they are inside the country, it proved quite impossible to get them outside it. Until now, when juli again used her amazing find-anything-on-the-internet skills to track some down. Hooray for blue-haired cyberpunk girlfriend! Hooray for khadags! Hooray for giftmas!
Comment on this post, and I will interview you by asking you approximately five questions. Post the questions and your answers on your own journal. Optionally, offer to interview people who comment on your posted interview.
(If you somehow find and comment on this post and I don't know you, I will look at your profile, interests, and last few posts for interview inspiration.)
The second-last of the tiny papercutting suggestions on 3x5 cards. A forest, as suggested by twoeleven Forests are hard, I eventually gave up and cheated by cutting two 3x5 cards worth of forest, and stacking them with some tracing paper. It is, of course, a douglas fir forest. I didn't spend years analyzing data on douglas fir branching patterns for nothing! Woo!
I. Hippos Invade Columbia
Columbian Drug lord Pablo Escobar kept a menagerie at his palatial estate, including 4 hippopotamuses. Since his death in 1993, the hippos have been reproducing like crazy, and now there are at least 60 and they are starting to take over the Magdalena river, much to the surprise of fishermen in the area. There are no hippo-eating predators and no droughts in Columbia, so there's not much pressure on their population. Observations indicate every mature female has a calf every year. At night they leave the river to eat crops and occasionally kill cows that get in their way. Programs to eradicate or sterilize them have been proposed, but they're so cute there's always a public outcry, and those options are expensive, so it's not clear what will be done about the hippos, if anything.
Locals report barbecued hippo tastes like pork.
BBC story about the hippos.
II. Tibetan EPAS1 gene found in Denisovan genome
About 4 years ago, a genetic study done on Tibetans and Han Chinese found a bunch of genes apparently useful for Not Dying When You Live At Altitudes With Only 60% Air Pressure. One of them was a variant of EPAS1, which is apparently the Most Not Dyingest, judging by how prevalent it was in the Tibetan population. It has something to do with transporting oxygen in the blood, but we're not entirely sure what - it seems to cause the production of less hemoglobin. There was a lot of speculation how how amazingly Not Dyingest EPAS1 must be to have become so widespread since Han and Tibetan populations diverged about 3000 years ago.
In a weirder twist, a match to the unique Tibetan version of EPAS1 has just been found ... in the Denisovan genome - a subspecies of human known only from two teeth, one finger, and one toe bone found in a cave in the Altai mountains (also found in the cave: human bones, neanderthal bones. Awesome all-species prehistoric party cave?). It is now believed that Tibetans got the Useful Not Dying Gene by cross-breeding with the Denisovans.
Sadly, you can't read the original article in Science online for free, but here's a summary.
III. Qiblah from Orbit
This is only news to me, the conference happened in 2006, but I really enjoyed reading about a conference called by the Malaysian Space Agency, Angkasa, trying to figure out how a Muslim ought to pray facing "toward Mecca" while in orbit around the Earth.
Not that facing toward Mecca on Earth is easy either. Some mosques in North America face Southeast (the direction of Mecca when viewed on a flat earth map) and some Northeast (the Great-Circle direction toward Mecca, shortest distance around a sphere, shown on the map, which was deigned to accurately show distances to Mecca from anywhere on Earth). Living on a sphere is hard.
The conference decided one should:
- Pray toward the Ka'aba if one can see it.
- Imagine that the orbit is a giant planet, project the Ka'aba up onto the surface of the orbital sphere, and pray in that direction (via great circle)
- If very far from Earth, pray in the general direction of Earth.
- Pray towards "wherever" if none of that is doable. I'm kind of curious what word in Arabic got translated as "wherever" in English, it's weird thing to see in an official religious document. :)
Just thought that was neat.
Wired article about the praying in space conference.
Sankofa can mean either the word in the Akan language of Ghana that translates in English to " reach back and get it" (san - to return; ko - to go; fa - to look, to seek and take) or the Asante Adinkra symbols of a bird with its head turned backwards taking an egg off its back, or of a stylised heart shape. It is often associated with the proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi," which translates "It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten."
The Sankofa symbol appears frequently in traditional Akan art, and has also been adopted as an important symbol in an African American and African Diaspora context to represent the need to reflect on the past to build a successful future. It is one of the most widely dispersed adinkra symbols, appearing in modern jewelry, tattoos, and clothing.
Thanks, dialecticdreamer !
Time for happy distractions. Suggest to me a subject for a Tiny Papercutting!
Tiny Papercuttings will be made out of 3x5 index cards (8ish by 12ish cm), and I'll post a reasonably sized photo, and also a dreamwidth-icon-sized image, like the icon I'm using for this post.