All things weird and wonderful, 50

29 01 2015

Calceolaria uniflora, photo by Thomas Mathis

The website from which a got this image, Strange and Wonderful Things (a title after me own little heart), compares these funky little flowers to “little orange penguins marching over the rocks”—and yeah, I can see that.

But I see a bunch of old aunties in wide hats toting their bins back from the fields, or maybe the market.

Clouds are masses of frozen liquids suspended in the atmosphere, and one can use SCIENCE to determine how they form and what their shapes say about conditions in the atmosphere and that’s all for the good. Similarly, one can use the tools of SCIENCE to discover that c. uniflora is “distantly related to Foxglove and Generiads”, and that the flower is pollinated by birds who eat the white bits of the bloom.

But sometimes clouds are castles or armies or profiles of Abe Lincoln, and sometimes flowers are little orange penguins or bin-toting old aunties in wide hats.

~~~

h/t PZ Myers, Pharyngula





All things weird and wonderful, 49

17 12 2014

End of the semester, grading—and oh yeah, that whole Torture USA! USA! USA! gig.

So, a nudibranch:

Costasiella kuroshimae, by Lynn Wu

A tiny sea slug that looks like a sheep—yes, that’s exactly what we need.

~~~

h/t Cute Overload; more info & photos here





All things weird and wonderful, 48

19 11 2014

Drunk tanks for birds.

Okay, so this might be a little sad—soused waxwings binge on fermented berries, then die of “ruptured livers or ‘flying under the influence of ethanol’ “—but sometimes the wonderfully weird is a little sad.

And it’s not just avian alcoholism that makes this story wonderfully weird, but that humans have created “holding tanks” in a (yes!) rehab facility in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Already, drunken flying accidents have sent four birds to the Whitehorse headquarters for rehabilitation in a series of specially equipped “holding tanks”: Small cages with water and bedding, that are kept quiet and dark “so that [the waxwings] can have a good recovery.” One of the birds, notably, arrived still smeared with the residue of alcoholic berries.

One of the birds, notably, arrived still smeared with the residue of alcoholic berries: of course she did.

In any case, the facility is prepared for

“a couple big flocks, and you can see them flying a bit erratically, trying to avoid things,” said Meghan Larivee with the territory’s Animal Health Unit. . . .

“We expect there will be more,” said Ms. Larivee.

h/t Raw Story





All things weird and wonderful, 47

27 10 2014

If you asked me my favorite color, I’d say “green”. It’s a lovely, color, green.

But lovely as green is, there is something about blue, something which can make me hold my breath and go, Oh oh oh!

A blue like this:

Hitachi Seaside Park in Japan by Hiroki Kondu/Nat Geo

Back when I still wrote poetry, I wrote of a “gaspingly pure blue sky”, and tho’ the poem wasn’t all that great, that line stayed with me.

Yes, the green is lovely, but it serves mainly to allow us a breath from all that gaspingly pure blue: the blue sky, the blue flowers, the blue shadow beneath the lovely green tree.

Maybe that is why I prefer green: it gives me respite.

But that blue, oh that blue—it is good sometimes to gasp at our world.





All things weird and wonderful, 46

14 09 2014

A fox, which flies. From India. An Indian Flying Fox.

Otherwise known as a “bat”.

Indian Flying Fox 2 sm

Traer Scott Photography

What a glorious thing is chance and necessity, allowing for the emergence of mammals with wings where their arms could be.

And she is a night animal—my kind of animal. Along with the serval and the otter, the kangaroo rat and the possum, the snow leopard and the moth, creatures great and small and maybe a little bit creepy, Traer Scott has photographed them (not quite all).

But this is the one which captured me.

What a magnificent shot of a magnificent creature.

~~~

h/t Daily Dish





All things weird and wonderful, 45

2 09 2014

Do you see what this is?

Colin/Creative Commons

Paisley Abbey in Scotland. Colin/Creative Commons

If you’re old like me, a second look should be all you need to figure it out.

Yep, this grotesque is an alien—or rather, the alien. From Alien.

I didn’t know, before I read this bit by Ella Morton on Slate, that there was a difference between gargoyles (water outlet from gutter) and grotesques (funky decorative figures), tho’ both are oft intended to ward off bad mojo.

At churches! Which presumably don’t need any help warding off bad mojo due to the major mojo of the Major Domo!

Yes, Christian houses of God are done up with gremlins and robots and astronauts and Darth Vader—and more than one Alien (check Atlas Obscura).

How can a syncretist such as myself reject such marvels? I cannot.

Such useless beauty, such curious love, such mischief amidst the sacred.





All things weird and wonderful, 44

24 08 2014

Oh, those wacky Bulgarians:

Oleg Popov/AP Photo

It seems Bulgarians have been treating Soviet war memorials in their country as a kind of palimpsest, albeit one in which the previous image is incorporated into the new one rather than erased.

The Russians are unamused.

I have some sympathy for the Russian position, not least because I am almost always moved by war memorials. A plaque, some names, dates: I stop, and read, and sigh. Some times I tear up.

And, of course, the Soviet sacrifice, both military and civilian, during World War II was immense, and Allied victory would not have been possible had the Soviets broken.

Still, I have to applaud the Bulgarians, here. They know the memorial matters—why else choose it for periodic makeovers?—and in so re-imagining it, re-mind us (or, at least, me) of the, ahem, absurdity of this human life.








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