Death by Donut.

I haven’t been able to get out much, like a lot of people this past year, so I’ve started working on indoor creativity. I now have two freshwater aquariums and one dry terrarium with succulents plants. My latest project started with a Skulls in vintage wigs and has morphed into Skeletons in different art styles. See below

The Skelton is a halloween decoration with some locking joints, so it can sit up straight in a chair. I dressed it in a black pill box hat with veil and a 18th Century UK judge wig. In its mouth is a real pink frosty donut with sprinkles and its in front of a dark blue and grey abstract background.

My next step was to change my photo into an artwork using app Fotor Photo Editor. They have free styles but the good ones cost you :). If anyone knows of other apps that have different styles let me know.

Spegazzini glacier

This is the Spegazzini glacier in Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina, and it’s massive. With a capital M.

It makes a 3 decker boat look like a bath toy, this isn’t the whole glacier there is still more. You don’t really understand the scale of it until you get up close, via the not a toy boat.

See what I mean, it takes the boat 10 mins to sail from one end to the next. The black lines is ash from a wild fires or volcano eruptions from who knows when. I should say someone knows but that someone isn’t me.

Funny anecdote, I dropped my camera before getting on the not a bath boat so I was holding it together with my hands hoping it would work and wishing for duct tape. As you can see it did! This is one of my favorites because it looks like a secret hideout.

How to recreate family holidays during lockdown

A lot of people will be having a small Thanksgiving/Christmas this year and will miss out on having a big get together. So here are some ways to mimic those big family gatherings.

.1. Get everyone in the house (including pets) to stand in one corner of the kitchen, then try to reach around for items. It’s like vertical twister game.

2. Start day drinking the day before, then you will have a killer headache for Thanksgiving/Christmas, to mimic the one you usually get that day.

3. Reply to any sentence, comment, or question with one of the following: that’s the first thing Hilter did or that’s paragraph one of the Communist Manifesto.

4. Chose one person, and only one, to do all the clean-up.

5. Get everyone in the car, pick a place to drive to, turn off the GPS, get an out of date map, and enjoy.

6. This one is for three or more people. One person hides a can of food and can opener before the cooking starts. Second person goes into the kitchen to start cooking and the third goes into the kitchen to “help”. When both parties start yelling “Why wouldn’t it be in the same places as always” or “I am looking and it’s not here” you have won the game.

Can you become a crazy fish lady?

My 20 gallon freshwater tank.

It’s taken a good month but I just about done with my freshwater tank. I had a 10 gallon before, went through 3 beta fish, and gave up. I didn’t do my research, I just wanted aqua plants and felt bad for those poor beta fish in the tiny tuber-ware and became a pet owner on a whim.

Now years later I’m trying again but with some knowledge and research, lockdown has given me a lot more free time. Turns out it’s better to have a big tank when you are starting out, seems counterintuitive but you are trying to balance an ecosystem in a tank, and the larger the body of water the more forgiven it is to small changes.

Step one was getting a tank and substrate and filling up the tank. Substrate creates needed ingredients for the plants and the whole tank. It’s like potting soil for plants, please don’t use potting soil it’s bad for the critters in the tank.

Step two, I added the plants, then a thin layer of river rocks, so they didn’t float and protect the roots from the snails. Later I found out about glass plant pots that stick to the wall, so I have the greenery but it’s not covering up the animals.

Step three, I added the nerite snails which live in freshwater but only lay eggs in brackish water. Brackish water is a mix of fresh and salt water, so no chance it getting overrun by snails. The snails clean up any algae that might grown in a tank.

Step four, fine sand and freshwater clams. You need the fine sand so the clams and dig in and work on filtering the water. Please note you can’t see the clams in the above photo because they are already hidden.

Step Five decorations. I added seashells, land snail shell, a purple barnacle structure, and coconut shells. I think everyone has unused seashells from some trip to the beach, the coconut shells cam from the store and the barnacle structure order on the internet.

Step Six, crayfish. I got two blue crayfish and they are fun to watch, the coconut shells are for them as crayfish need hiding spaces. I crack it open with a hammer wedged it into the sand to make sure there is an opening.

Step Seven, guppies. Not seen in the photo because I haven’t received them yet but I’m getting 5 guppies. If you have crayfish in your tank you need to have the right kind of fish, not big enough to eat the crayfish but fast enough to keep out of there way, also no bottom feeding fish.

Step Eight, sit back and enjoy they antics. They crayfish keep trying to get out, they are know for it, so I’ve taken to call them Steve and McQueen, because they are trying for a Great Escape.

Steve in all his glory, eating the sinking food pellets.

Photo Detail on Spooky Moon.

I created this photo using three unrelated photos, which is why I keep almost all of my photos, you never know when I need to add something.

The three photos I used were: one of winter trees with barren branches, a photo of a full moon, and a photo of a almost full moon covered with think layer of clouds.

Next step is to copy the full moon and paste it over the cloudy 3/4 moon. I use the lasso option in Photoshop but other Photo editing software has the same type of feature. Then you merge the two moon into one, save, and then open the merge photo in your photo edit software/App.

Now we move into the style of the photo, this part depends on what you like. You don’t have to follow what I did you can choose your own adventure. I would suggest playing around with all the settings and deciding what you like the best. Below are the settings I chose if you want a starting point.

Once you are done with your settings you need to overlay the tree branch photo onto your moody moon photo. To do that you need to copy the tree photo and paste onto the moon photo. Then you pick the blending option you like or you can merege the photos.

Now you know how I created this photo.

Werewolf Moon

I created this photo using three unrelated photos; one was a detail clear photo I had of the moon, another was an almost full moon with overcast cloudy sky, and the last was a day photo of barren trees during winter. I copied the clear moon over the moon in the overcast sky photo, did some edits (shadows, color balance), and then merged it with the trees. I used Photoshop and Camera Raw option in Photoshop to create the look. This is also the reason why I save all my photos even the bad ones, I also have a folder that photos of the sky that I can use for other photos.

Sleeping Beauty Ballet?!

I’m a big Disney fan and Sleeping Beauty is one of my favs and a big reason why is the music. Then I grew older and found out the music is by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovshy and fell in love with the music again. Then a few years ago I had some free time, not COVID-19 free time because I fear going out of the house but between holidays free time, and watched the Ballet. My thought was even is I don’t like Ballet I will still love the music and that’s when the Absinthe fuel day dream started.

I’m sure everyone know but just in case, the Disney Animated Fairytale movie (Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White….) are happier version of the Fairytale, usually the Brother’s Grime version. However they are multiple version or variations across the world. Which means I went into this expecting some differences and maybe the death of Sleeping Beauty, but these are are related in the sense that the Four Chris’s are related. FYI Hemsworth is the best Chris with Chris Pratt in an almost tie runner up.

Fairies. In Disney version we have three good fairies and one bad fairy (Maleficent), the ballet has SIX good fairies and the bad fairy is called Carabosse. That’s not a scary name that a off off brand coffee store. Carabosse is general performed by a male ballet dance in drag, which I love but I didn’t know Ballet or Russia culture was into camp? The main fairy, the Lilac Fairy who gives off Glenda the Good Witch vibe. You know like she could have fix everything in five minutes but wanted to teach Dorothy a lesson. She changes the curse from Death to 100 Years of sleep that happens.

Aurora. In this version Aurora AKA Sleeping Beauty gets to live with her parents and the first Act is her sweet sixteen birthday. During said birthday she dances with her four suitors, I guess none of them had a great horse like Prince Philip. In my mind Prince Philip’s Horse is the great grandsire of Maximus in Tangles. Surprise old Carabosse shows up and the entire kingdom is knocked out for 100 years and the castle is covered in thornes. Then the Lilac Fairy lures this random prince to awake Aurora with a Kiss, she don’t know him how is that love in the disney version at least they meet first. Aurora wakes up and agrees to marry Prince Désiré (still not making this up) and that’s it. There’s no fight, no turning into a dragon, nothing.

Wedding. The last part of the ballet when the guest arrive to wish the couple well is differently the weirdest part of the ballet. The guest list is some hodgepodge of characters from other fairytales, and some are B list characters. Puss in Boots and the White Cat, Goldilocks and the Three Bears; Cinderella and her Stepsisters; the Bluebird and Princess Florine; Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; and Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. I have no idea who the White Cat and Princess Florine are but the big question is, why is Cinderella there with her Stepsisters? Is this a prequel to Cinderella when they are all friends or some cruel act where the Stepsisters are servanets to Cinderella and must watch in envy? Also, in most of the tales her Stepsisters die so is this a retelling as directed by Tim Burton (which I kind of want to see now)?

Which leads to the last question of this tale. Did Tchaikovshy wait until the last min to come up with this idea and styled it out like the tailors in the Emperor has no clothes. Only smart people with artistic version will understand this ballet.

Strange, weird, and ironically funny…

Historical Deaths:

A lot of people say history is boring and it is but that’s not history fault, it boring school books and memorizing dates. Real history is filled with crazy nutters, below are some of the strange, weird, and ironically funny deaths from history.

King Francis II of France. He was king for one year and would most likely be forgotten today if not for two facts. One, he was the first husband to Mary Stuart aka Mary Queen of Scots. Two, he died of an ear infection. …

Henry Stuart was the second husband to Mary Queen of Scots, his death is due to gunpowder. The gunpowder was in two large barrels directly under his sleeping quarters, while staying at  Kirk o’ Field, in the middle of the night the barrels went off, by accident I’m sure. Best not to ask about the thrid husband, hint it didn’t end well.

John Priest, the man whom wouldn’t sink. He worked on the Titanic when it went down in 1912, the RMS Alcantara when it sank in 1913, the Britannic when it went down in 1916, HMHS Asturias in 1917, and then the Donegal that sunk in 1917. After that I’m sure people didn’t let him on boats or ship of anykind. He died on dry land in 1937 from Pneumonia.

Marie Curie, her death is sad with tinge of irony. She is the first person to be awarded two Nobel Prizes, she named polonium after her country of birth, Poland. Her work in radioactivity also lead to her death from Aplastic anemia. Her final resting place is in Paris France in the Pantheon. Her and her husband remain are in a lead line container to ward off vampires…not really it’s because they are still radioactive. Oh and she also created mobile X-Ray machines after studying Radiology, anatomy, and automotive mechanics to help wounded soldiers in WWI.

Qin Shi Huang First Emperor of Qin, know to us as the guy buried with stone army, the famed Terracotta Army. He die from ingesting mercury pills, which he believe would make him the greatest singer in the world! Sorry wrong mercury, he ingested mercury because he thought mercury to be elixir of immortality. This is where it gets weird, the Emperor was touring his lands when he died and he’s Chancellor Li Si, was afraid of an uprising if the news came out while they were so far from the capitol. So Li Si, one of the Emperor’s Sons and 5 or 6 eunuchs Weekend of Bernie’s the Emperor corpse to the capitol. It was a two month jounary back to the capitol, they had two carriages of rotting fish traveling in front of and behind the Emperor’s carriage (to cover up the decaying smell). The eunuchs would “change his clothes” and bring him “meals”, the shades in the carriage where lower in the to kept people from looking in. Remember this was back in the day when you have massive luggage trains when royotly travel, enough to hold a mini castle for the Emperor, his favoirte food and chefs, a bed, loads of clothes, personal guards, so it’s a hoard of people they fooled. See I told you it would get weird. Wonder if this inspired Weekend of Bernie’s?

Indoor actives for kids

AKA I’ve done everything during lockdown and I’m running out of ideas, help!

Indoor Fort. Supplies: Bed sheets, four chairs, paper, coloring instruments, smores, flashlight, and children.

To create the fort you need some bedsheets and four chairs to draped the sheet over. You can also use boxes, a big table, or even a washing line with some tape to keep the sheet to the floor. Have the kids put their sleeping bags, couch cuhsions, and/or blankets in the fort. If you let them they will sleep there, I don’t know why but something about sleeping outside your room is super fun as a kid.

Next step, set the sceen. Have the kid/s name the fort and decide where the fort is; the desert, under the sea, the Moon, or Outer space. This is where the paper and drawing implements comes in, have the kid/s drawn the environment around the fort. Under the sea they can draw fish/reefs/sharks, in outer space it’s rocket ships/stars/aliens, or in the desert cacti/coyotes/Chupacabra. You can also get this awesome nightlights that project a starry sky or just hang up the Christmas lights indoors.

Last we have story time only the kid/s tell you stories about the fort and the adventures they will have. Again it’s engaging your child’s brain and imagination; also children tell the wildest and the funniest stories. If you do story time after dinner then you can end the night with smores and maybe a movie about the enviorment they picked.

Treasure Hunt. Supplies: items kid/s like, hiding places, and a map if you are good at drawing or have a floor plan. Wait until the kid/s go to sleep and gather the treasure, toys, or maybe candy. For older kids you can include clues to find the treasure; seek the place where everything spins (washer a/o dryer), all bad smells go here (trash can), or I’m someplace small and freezing (frezer). You can also make a game of the game; winner picks movie or dinner? If you want to go the whole nine years, get some priate costumes and have everyone talk like a priate, yaar matey.

Obstacle Course in your house. You pick a starting point and end point, but each room you have to go though have rules or restrictions. In the Living Room the floor is LAVA!!! When in the kitchen you have to walk backwards, another room you have to close your eyes and let someone else direct you to safety. Maybe in the hallway you must hop like a bunny, you have to spin around five times before entering and exiting a room, and for the extra level of difficulty one of the players does random Simon Says.

Last one, have your own summer olympics, since we didn’t have one in Japan this year.

  1. Hopscotch race, graded on speed but deduct points for missing a square.
  2. Marathon running in place, who can go the longest.
  3. Limbo Time!!!!
  4. Telephone Relay. For this you need two teams and a judge (grandparents/others) on Zoom/Phone/in the house. The judge will tell each team a different message and the message passes to each teammate, the last one retells the message to the judge. Again fastest time wins but each wrong word adds a second.
  5. Telephone charades. This one is for older kids a/o adults. Again a person is told the message and then use Charades to pass the massage to the next teammate. Again fastest time and points deducted for wrong words.
  6. From 1912 to 1952 the offical Olympics included an arts competition known as the “Pentathlon of the Muses”, arts inspired by sport. Which means you can add poetry, singing, and painting to your home games.
  7. Another sit down event, Rock Paper Scissors matches. Please note to make the game more high stakes wear a headband and wristbands.
  8. Egg & Spoon. Hard boil some eggs, you can decorate them, then place the egg in a spoon. Mark a distant for the race, line up, and go. If you go too fast the egg falls off the spoon so it evens out the game a bit.

I’m never… going back to Vancouver Airport.

I flew into the Vancouver Airport in June 2019, in order to board the cruise ship to Alaska inland passage. Don’t get me wrong I love Canada, so clean (no litter), great views, everyone nice; but that airport was the pits.

It looked like 3 or 4 jumbo jets landed around the same time which is not unusual as 5 or 6 cruise boats were loading that day. Deplaning was fine but it took four hours to get out of the airport.

Four Hours…….

The custom officers had 5 people for all non Canadians, they knew the number of planes landing that day months in advance. Still they had FIVE people!? We stood in lines that were queued up for the next line, I felt so bad for the people with health issues and couldn’t stand that long. Image if you where pregnant and having that wait because I didn’t see any seats. Then there was the smell. There is a reason body heat is use for people with hypothermia because us humans are just bags of radiating constant heat.

The last line was the valet rope large room, with all those bodies the AC couldn’t keep up with the heat a huge crowed creates. Now think about people who had been on an airplane for over 12 hours and think about how long your deodorant last. It was hot and smelled like a high school gym, so sweaty socks. When I looked at the Canadian custom side they had 20 booths and 17 were manned with custom officers. So it’s wasn’t a strike or lack of people. A few years ago when I went to France they shut the airport down due to an unaccompanied language, and I still got out of there in an hour.

The plan was to land, check into the hotel, and then use half a day to explore the city. Fast forward four hours of standing in hot smelly rooms and I just wanted food and a shower. And that is why I plan to never return to that airport. This is always why you should have snacks, a water bottle (doesn’t have to be water, wink), and entertainment (phone, MP3 player, tablet) when you travel, just in case you are stuck in line for hours.

To Queen or Not to Queen, that is the question.

The UK is missing three Queens. Empress Matilda, Lady Jane Gray, and Queen Mary the Second, but wait I can hear you say a Lady and an Empress are not Queen and who is this Queen Mary II is that bloody Mary? Let me explain.

The Bastard AKA William the Bastard AKA William Duke of Normandy AKA William the Conqueror AKA William I King of England and Duke of Normandy. You know that guy on the tapestry. William the I had four sons and four daughters, all his sons (William II King of England, Robert II Duke of Normandy, Richard of Normandy, and Henry I king of England) had a go at being the King of England and Duke of Normandy. Richard died young of a hunting accident in the New Forrest without issue, William II King of England also died of a hunting accident in the New Forrest without issue. There was a fight between the remaining brothers about who was the boss, which ended with the Youngest Son Henry as King of England and Duke of Normandy and Robert being held captive for life by his younger brother. We assume neither went into a forrest for the rest of their lives.

Henry I had two legitimate children William and Matilda, William died young without issue (but not in the new forest) and Matilda was married to Henry V the Holy Roman Emperor which made her Empress Matilda. Henry I remarried but the marriage didn’t result in any additional children. So, Henry I gather his nobles and made them all swear to accept Matilda as the heir to England after his death. The nobles lied because after his death they supported Stephen the son of William I daughter’s Adela. There was a period of war that resulted in Stephen staying King however, he died shortly after the death of his first son, and the crown was pasted to Matilda’s son. He became King while she still lived. So the first English Queen to rule in her own right should have been Matilda I Queen of England.

Fast forward a few hundred years the Henry VIII the last Henry to rule England, I’m not surprised Henry was taken out of the naming pool for future monarchs. We all know Henry had issues in begetting a male hair, (Six Wives and just three kids) after his death came his nine-year-old son Edward VI of England who died aged fifteen. This caused a great problem in England as all the legitimate heirs where girls, and look at what happened the last time a girl was named the ruler of England (see above paragraph about Matilda). The last official update to the list of succession removes Mary and Elizabeth as they where both consider illegitimate. Henry VIII declared this marriage to both their mothers as invalid which made them illegitimate but most consider Mary to be the legitimate heir. If there is no male heir then it should go to the eldest legitimate daughter, with no legitimate daughters the title should go to the eldest legitimate sister.

The eldest sister to Henry’s was Margaret, who married the King of Scotland and birth King James V of Scotland, but both had died before Edward which left Margaret granddaughter Queen Mary of Scotland and France. The current english nobles in power were protestant and didn’t want a twice over foreign catholic queen. This led to Henry VIII’s youngest sister, Mary Tudor, who was the Queen of France (Not the same French King who married Mary Queen of Scotts) and later the Duchess of Suffolk. She had two sons and two daughters with the Duke of Suffolk, the two sons died without issue, the eldest daughter had died before Edward VI but she did have one daughter named Frances Brandon. Frances had three surviving children all daughters, and the oldest was Lady Jane Grey. She was crowed and ruled as Queen of England for nine days before Queen Mary I, AKA Bloody Mary, with an army behind her took the throne to become the first Official Queen of England in her own right. We don’t know why Frances was passed over for her daughter but Jane was married to the Duke of Northumberland son, and the Duke was in charge of the Government due to Edward VI young age. So we can all guess why.

Queen Mary I died without issue and her half-sister, Elizabeth, became Queen of England in her own right but what about the other Mary? Elizabeth was considered illegitimate by many because her parents (Henry VIII and Anne Boylen) were married while Katherine of Aragon was still alive and Henry divorced himself as the new head of the English Church. Basically Henry said I am both the King and Pope of England by the power I gave myself I said the marriage is annulled. He did this because the orginal Pope refused to annul the marriage with Katherine, which isn’t surprising given that Katherine’s nephew was Charles V the Holy Roman Emperor. Charles basically had the Pope locked in his basement, it was a very nice basement but still. Another problem for Elizabeth was Henry (AKA worst Dad ever) and her brother (young Eddy) legally declared her as illegitimate and removed from the official line of succession. Therefore it goes back to the eldest sister of Henry and her granddaughter Mary Queen of Scots. So why was Elizabeth Queen? Her sister Mary became Queen even after she was legaly removed from the line of succession, if it didn’t apply to Mary then it can’t really apply to Elizabeth. The legal argument of but you let my sister do it so why can’t I.

The bigger reason England went to Elizabeth and not Mary 2.0 was because Mary was twice foreign and Catholic. She was Queen of Scotland both more importantly at the time of Mary I death, she was the current Queen of France. So if Mary became Mary II Queen of England, then the King of France (her husband) would be King of England. And that shit anti happening, not then not ever. If the EU told the UK, if you stay in the EU we will kick France out, I’m 90% certain the UK would stay. They have a history. The other reason is religion, we call her Bloody Mary because she had over 300 people burned for heresy in five years. Her dad also burned heretics but not 300 in five years. The nobles of England didn’t want another Catholic Queen burning people and taking their land and titles. Elizebeath didn’t care what you religion was just as long as you acknowleged she was Queen. Better the Queen you know than the Queen you don’t.

And that is why the UK is missing three Queens.

How I Edit A Photo…the easy way.

I start with the raw photo. Most cameras let you change the photo compression, pick the smallest of the compression file types as it holds the most detail/data.

This is the photo I will start with, it’s in NEF format with no edits.

There is plenty of photo editing software to use, the one I am using is Camera Raw with Adobe, I am not sponsored by them.

Photo in Camera Raw.

We have the photo in the middle and on the right-hand side list all the changes I can make. Just play around with the slider, move it to the left and right to see how it affects the photo.

Screen shot of the edits made to the photo

See how different it looks. You can move the sliders around to find something you like or you can cheat and use the presets.

Preset Option follow the arrow.
I selected the Matte preset.

I selected Preset options and use the Matte preset but it’s still not right to me. I want more colors and a darker sky. I increased the Saturation for some more color on the foreground and then go for the graduated filter for the sky.

Select the edit option (red arrow) at top in order to return to previous screen.

The red arrow points to the edit icon to return to the previous screen, then select the orange arrow icon, Graduated Filter. You use the mouse to click hold and drag the filter down from top of the photo (green point) to the horizon (redpoint), I now have the whole sky in my filter. Everything you edit in this mode will only affect the area between the green and red dotted lines.

Again just play with the sliders

I took the Highlights, Shadows, White, and Black slides to the far left and the Contrast to the right. As you can see I now have a much darker sky but the grass and boardwalk have not been affected.

Below is the final effort. Keep in mind I made the files in this blog post small, like 1MB in order to save on loading time. So it has more detail in the 30MB file. Hope this helps.