Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fun with math

I've been studying visual mathematics (because patterns in nature, fractals, golden ratio, blah blah, etc etc). If I ignore all the squiggly numbers and formulas, and stick to looking at the pictures of examples, it begins to makes perfect sense. I'm still terrible at math.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The last leaf

     Walking or hiking is a good time to think about narratives.
     "The last leaf" could work as an environmental piece, telling a tale of deforestation (look, see the clean cutting of the branch? See???), with a single, dying, splotchy looking leaf just about ready to fall off.
     However, the piece above isn't really a piece yet, and it isn't going to be about the last leaf. And I'm no longer twelve, and I don't think we're evil human beings out to destroy nature out of sheer spite.
     The branch and leaf are just working samples for techniques, and reminders of what I should and shouldn't do to get more effective results while soldering and forming. Composing a narrative will, however, determine the direction of the work. I'm using fairly simple techniques, nothing that requires very fancy machinery, and trying to avoid the use of chemicals (worst thing I've been using is a mixture of salt and vinegar for pickling). The forms, such as the leaf, relies heavily on basic fold forming forces (with the help of solder) to work and look like it could be a real moldy dead leaf (at a quick glance). It will be a technique that will be repeated numerous more times to represent numerous other organic forms (lichen, fungi). I could, for example, work that into the narrative, which would give a different overview of the work. But, for now, the white moldy looking splotch just means that I did a bad soldering job.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Thank you, google images.

     It looks like my beautiful anemone slime mold is a Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa and the descriptions for Olga and Helga match those of the Brefeldia maxima

     I like this little tidbit: "The scientific name was designed to be defamatory as the plasmodium was thought to be particularly ugly.[8] The genus is named after German botanist and mycologist Julius Oscar Brefeld (August 19, 1839 – January 12, 1925)".

     It's good to know that even mycologists are capable of being be little dipshits. Also, naming them Olga and Helga somehow seems all the more appropriate now.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Keep it down, hairless apes!

     It's great that people are going on nature hikes, appreciating the fresh air, enjoying the good weather, etc etc. It's not so great when there's a large number of them, talking loudly. It's even annoying, when you're old, and they're young, and they say stuff like "That bike ride was sooo siiiick." What?
     I know I say "awesome" a lot (because I watched Bill and Ted during my formative years), but not loudly on a nature hike.

     That said, besides Olga and Helga, I've been spending a bit of time studying these guys:

     Hordes of people walked past while I was taking photos of this log, and perhaps if they'd just talked a little less, slowed down some more, and took a closer look, they'd have seen this:

     I don't know what they are, yet, but they are awesome.

Gettin' ready to spore!

     Olga and Helga are heading towards the end of their life cycles (they are going to spore over the next few days), which is both kind of sad, and exciting (or I need to get a life).
Olga, 20/10/13

Olga, 20/10/13 
Olga has a visitor, 20/10/13
Olga, 22/10/13
Olga, 22/10/13

Meanwhile, Helga:

Helga, 20/10/13
Helga, 20/10/13
Helga, 20/10/13

Helga, 22/10/13
Helga, 22/10/13 It looks like someone took a stick and defaced Helga. Grr.
Helga, 22/10/13

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Olga and Helga

     I've already introduced Olga before (though I hadn't named her yet then). She lives on a log, with her sister, Helga.

White splotch on the left is Olga, and white splotch on the right is Helga
     This photo was taken yesterday, to give one an idea of their surrounding environment. I've been keeping a track of them since the 15th but I've been focusing more on Olga simply because she's easier to photograph, and Helga was a much smaller blotch on an awkward angle when I first came across them. She's actually moved (!) from the log to that branch now.

     Anyway, let's start with the star of the show, Olga:
Olga, 15/10/13
Olga, 17/10/13 (for movement reference, use the leaves)

Olga, 18/10/13

Olga (???), 19/10/13

Olga, 15/10/13

Olga, 17/10/13
Olga, 18/10/13
Olga, 19/10/13
Olga, 19/10/13

Olga, 19/10/13

Meanwhile, Helga:

Helga, 15/10/13

Helga, 17/10/13 (Helga is reaching out for that branch on the left)
Helga, 18/10/13 ... that was friggin' quick
Helga, 19/10/13 !!?
Helga, 19/10/13
     I'm supposed to go on a hike and a boat ride early tomorrow morning, but all I can think of right now is "oh no, what about Olga and Helga???"

And I kept killing Matilda...

Hi again, Matilda!
     While Herbie is thriving, I've accidentally killed Matilda, twice. The first time around, I was titling her little condiment tray to get a better shot with the camera, and she got buried by an avalanche of coffee grounds. There was no sign of her for about 3 days. She bravely came back though, and I was happy, and then got distracted with other things and when I came back to check up on her and take some photos, she had died  under the hash light of my work lamp. Tragedy!

     Anyway, I was just about to give up and reuse the dish for other things (broccoli), when I forgot about it and left it for a few more days. And today I was taking an update of Herbie (isn't he beautiful, in a moldy way?) and checked up on the coffee grounds, just in case. And there's Matilda!
     And speaking of Herbie: 

Hi Herbie!
     I don't really have much scientific knowledge about molds, so I'm not sure if the white fluff is still Herbie, or  something else.
Lush forests of white and green... growing on a rotting banana.
    There's no sign of life on the left over piece of bread, or on the tea-bag. I'm surprised that there's nothing on the bread. Why, bread, why?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Pacific Ocean

     I've always wanted to see it:

     I only had the macro lens with me, so I couldn't quite capture the "oh wow, I can see forever" feeling I had while looking at it. It was stunningly beautiful. 
     Oh yes, I do remember what I actually came here to do. It's moving along, slowly. I'm waiting for some tools and materials to come in. It's going to start making sense, eventually.  I hope. 

Well, hello there...

     I have two new pets. Their names are Herbie and Matilda, and I'll be sharing my space with them over the next few weeks, talking about (and to) them, and keeping a track of their growth. I'm excited. I might have two more pets soon, or not. We shall see.



     The weather had been exceptionally clear the past few days, so I've been out hiking a bit. I say "a bit" because I don't seem to get very far, examining every single fallen log along the path. I was excited to find this guy. 
It's colloquially known as the dog vomit fungus, and this particular "beauty" seems to be a plasmodial slime mold called the Enteridium lycoperdon, but the one person (working for the Bureau of Land Management)  who could have given me the definite identification is unfortunately not working at the moment due to the government shutdown.

    I didn't dare touch it then (at least not without latex gloves and maybe a bio hazard suit), but Frank assured me that it's perfectly harmless, and that I should poke it the next time I see it. And without gloves. I just might.

Other observations: Patterns and algorithms