Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ant vs. Pistil

I was out by our mailbox a few days ago, and I noticed that ants really enjoy the primose. Then I noticed this one guy who had his head down in the hole, and the part of the flower that sticks out of the hole -- the pistil, I learned -- was rocking and rotating. I watched for a minute, and realized that the ant was probably trying to chew through it so that he could get at the nectar behind it. I looked around at the other flowers and saw that more than half of them had their pistils detached and sitting on the petals next to the holes. This was evidence that what this ant was doing was routine work for his tribe.

I ran and grabbed the camera, and managed to film his moment of triumph.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

North Korea and the Axe Murder Incident

You know, I don't often use bad language on this blog, but I just have to make this comment: Craaaaaaazy shit.
I don't recall hearing about his before. Just thought I'd throw it up here, Korea being in the news so much and all.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Car Painting (update)


It is nearly done!  I stopped last night around 12:45 (this was my third night in a row of staying up past 1:00 a.m., and I'm starting to feel it).  There is one small area that needs a tiny bit of detail work. After it spends the day drying, I should be able to polish that off in about ten minutes.


However, I made the mistake of bringing it in to work with me today.  That means I'll be spending the day looking at it, finding more things to do.  I already spotted one thing I could correct.  It's not something super obvious, I think, but it's hard to tell.  After spending so much time staring at it, it becomes very difficult to tell what works and what doesn't, which mistakes are glaring to a casual observer and which are merely wickedly haunting my second-guessing right hemisphere.


I think it looks really good, though.  I'm pleased with it.  I even signed and dated it last night.


Figuring out how much time I've spent on it is very hard.  I kept thinking, "I'm probably getting close to fifty hours," but I started thinking that twenty hours ago, at least.  Fifty hours would be a very conservative estimate.  I don't think I hit a hundred.  Seventy hours worth of work is probably about right but really I just don't know.


Photos will follow in a few days.


I should also add that rubbing a cut garlic clove onto the surface of a painting does, in fact, seem to curtail the beading problem I was having.  Now the painting smells like garlic.  I'm sure it will fade before too long; but in the meantime, Lynette, if you're reading this, and you're not a garlic person, then…sorry.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bad Astronomy

Bad Astronomer Phil Plaitt wrote an interesting post explaining why the Moon tends to look notably bigger when it is on the horizon:


He includes this photographic illustration of a Ponzo illusion.  I think this is really amazing.  Look at the two vertical red lines in the photo.  How much longer does the one on the right look than the one on the left?




(Note: I'm sending this post in via email, and when I do that, I don't know where the photo is going to end up in the post.  Sorry if it's placed confusingly.)


Another item from the Bad Astronomy blog:  This is a really cool photo from a guy to takes lots of really cool photos.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Painting and stuff

For a blogger that is supposed to be at least partially blogging about art, I sure haven't put up many photos in a long time.  I've been painting pretty consistently on the car, though, and I'm close to being finished with it.  I painted for another hour-and-a-half last night.  I need to let the whole painting sit for a few days so that it's dry to the touch, then I can put what might be the lat layer of glazing on it.


This has been an educational process; I have done relatively little work in oil glazes before, and I've never before done a single painting that depended so heavily on glazing.  Thank goodness for the Internet; I've relied on articles and discussions to help me work out the bugs in the process.  Once again, was a reliable, entertaining resource.


One problem that I have had is with some of my thin layers of glazed paint beading up on the preceding layer.  I learned that rubbing the lower dried layer with a cut onion or garlic will prevent this from occurring.  I haven't tried it yet, but I will.


I am also working on another walnut ink house drawing commission.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

You smell delicious!

I think I'll invent a line of fragrances called Grill Scents.  They'd probably work equally well for men or women.  The flagship fragrance would be Tangy Barbecued Chicken, but Jamaican Jerk and Sizzling Steak would be on the shelves with it.  For those who adore subtlety and love anticipation as much as they love payoff, I'll include Freshly Fired Briquette.


Friday, May 07, 2010

Considering the others


Kim and I have failed to locate our Sony digital camera.  It has been missing for more than a week.  We've lost cameras before, but never in such a seemingly confined amount of space and time.  We had it in my parents' van on Wednesday night, and that's the last time we saw it.  After we got out of the van, we got in our vehicles, and drove home.  When Kim looked for the camera the next day, she couldn't find it.


There just aren't many places it can be.  We looked everywhere we could think of, and in most cases we looked there three to five times.  I still think there is a good chance it will turn back up.  Maybe it fell behind something at a weird angle, or…that's about all that's left I can think of.


We decided we still need a camera while we wait for ourselves to find the missing one.  So Kim bought a little Canon camera.  It's tiny and very pink ("I'm sorry," said Kim, "it's the only color they had left.")


I read the small owner's booklet a couple of nights ago, and came across this sentence: "CAUTION:  Do not point the camera at very bright objects (the sun, etc.) Doing so may damage the sensors."


I'm intrigued by the "etc."  "et cetera" is Latin for "and the others," and the general modern meaning is that there are others things of the same sort that, for the sake of brevity, aren't listed.


So, in other words, it is inadvisable to point the camera at the Sun or other things of that sort.  That made my mind race. What are those other things?


First I thought of lit candles.  They are hot, and they are bright.  However, I've never seen a candle as bright as the Sun.  It seems unlikely that anyone would market a $160 camera that would break if it were used to photograph a child blowing out birthday candles.


What else is like the Sun?  The Moon?  It's not nearly as bright; it hardly ranks as a celestial birthday candle.  Did you know that the Earth's moon has one of the lowest albedos (abilities to reflect light) in the solar system?  If you lined up all the planets and moons and shined light on them, our moon would be way down at the bottom of the scale.  It's a very dark object, and just looks bright to us because it is so big and close.


So, I don't think that the Moon is one of the things meant by "etc."


Obviously, stars would have to fall into the category of things similar to the Sun.  Upon careful consideration, though, this doesn't seem to work very well in the context of the owner's manual.  Humans as a rule are only allowed to photograph stars from a great distance.  They are fainter in appearance than the Moon.  I feel that it could not possibly have been the intention of the technical writer of the owner's manual that you should not point your camera at the night sky and snap a photo.


This "etc." could serve to warn off lawsuits from NASA several hundred or several thousand years from now.  If scientists prepared an interstellar probe and decided that the philosophy of "faster, smaller, cheaper" meant that a small Canon digital hand-held would be the best choice for imaging technology, then it could spell trouble.  The probe would spend centuries crossing the gulf between us and Proxima Centauri (not a particularly bright star, by the way), point itself at the star, and fry itself.  Another NASA fiasco to frustrate the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandchildren of the same engineers who forgot to convert their English measurements to metric on that Mars probe that crashed a few years ago.


All this strikes me as unlikely to have been in the mind of the writer of the owner's manual.


Another theoretical way to get close to a star is to be abducted by aliens and brought back to their home solar system.  People are always trying to get good photos of UFOs, after all, and a well-documented close encounter of the third kind would be worth a good amount of fame and money.  I don't think this kind of event really ever occurs, but maybe the technical writer is a believer, and he doesn't want someone burning out their camera's optics before snapping some great shots of the Grays, spacecraft interiors, and alien cloning operations.


After these considerations, it struck me: The most likely item to fall under "etc." is a nuclear blast.  That has the brightness of the Sun; it can and does occur here on Earth; there are probably lots of people who would try to photograph one if it occurred near enough to see and they had their cameras in their hands.  The warning would be wise to heed for those people who want their cameras to be intact to record the effects of post-Armageddon firestorms, nuclear winter, and rampant hair loss.


After thinking of this, it occurred to me that similar energies can be released on a smaller scale and in more tightly controlled conditions during particle physics experiments.  The newly started Large Hadron Collider in Europe might do this.  Grad students, make sure you read your tiny hot pink camera's manual before hooking it up to your research project.


That's all I can think of.  Therefore, the camera's manual could read, "Do not point this camera at the Sun, at alien suns around which you may orbit, or at nuclear explosions.  Do not attempt to use this camera to record data for high-energy particle physics experiments."


This would certainly make the manual more interesting to most people (not to me; I fill in all those boring blanks myself, obviously.)  There is, however, value in just leaving it as "etc."