My Zen Garden

I love plants but I have allergies and over/under water any plants I’ve ever had, so I have a problem. You might think this isn’t a problem there are tones of plants without pollen, but soil (that holds water for your plants) can also create mold (which is a common allergy). But what about succulent plants or air plants, no soil needed, no mold, problem solved! Yes, but I seem to under or overwater them. So my solution to this problem is an underwater garden, no soil just rocks and you can’t overwater an aqua plant.

The next problem is how to create an aqua garden?

I have a 20-gallon freshwater tank, with normal gravel and plants purchased from Amazon and PetSmart/PetCo. I have an LED light with white, red, green, and blue lights; and some decor made from resin. I have snails, shrimp, and fish in my tank to provide fertilizer for my plants and they add some color to my view. I had time during the pandemic to think about this garden and research what I needed. you can go smaller maybe have a mason jar with marimo moss balls and miniature decor from Michaels.

If you want your own underwater garden below are questions you ask yourself and some helpful tips.

The photo above is a 20-gallon tank, each gallon weighs 8.34 (lb) or 3.785 (kg) for a total water weight of 166.8 (lb), and that doesn’t include the weight of the tank and any decor you might add. Make sure you place the tank on something that can support that weight. It doesn’t have to be a tank stand but make sure to check the support weight limit, it should be in the description of the item along with its size.

Is the spot near an electrical outlet, you will need a nearby outlet for the light, filter, a/o heater.

Plants need light so you might think I can just use sunlight, but aqua plants do not receive direct sunlight in nature. The direct sunlight will create algae everywhere, so keep the tank away from any windows.

Think about the light and noise from the tank before placing it in your bedroom. The filter might be whisper quiet but water hitting water creates noise.

Plan you tank makes, snails can clean up algae, dead plants, and provide natural fertilizer but some also eat plants. I have Nerite snails, they don’t breed in freshwater, don’t eat live plants, and have neat patterns/colors on their shells.

Is this too much work, then go smaller! I started out with a mason jar and some Marimo moss balls with glass beads. I went bigger because I also wanted a pet and fish don’t require walking and they don’t cough up hairballs on my bed.

Whale of Tale to tell you!

Another example of forced creativity, using a whale shark figure, LED lights, dark background, and turning off the lights.

Here’s what you start with, then turn off the lights in the room and apply some editing and you get……

You can also use the gradient filter, that replaces colors, to create something really unique.

Anyone get the title reference?

Naked Computers

My BlueRay/DVD player finally broke, not surprising it’s really old. It’s going to tech recycle but first I wanted photos. I unscrewed the top and took a peek into the naked player and it is beautiful. I guess the moral of the story is, there is beauty in broken things.

Close up on circuit board and then used Gradient Map feature to switch out the green and black for yellow and red.

An extreme close-up of the circuit board looks like a model town to me. The lines are roads everything else is buildings, and the components that I focused on would be skyscrapers.

This component just looks like odd battery size, like QQ or ZZZ.

Snail Stink Eye

I’ve been working on macro photography with my snails, fish, and shrimp; and I caught my snail giving me the stink eye.

Are you looking at me?

This is a Tiger Nerite snail, it’s about one-inch big gliding on a plant leaf. If you are looking for a snail for a freshwater aquarium this is the snail to get. They have brightly colored shells with patterns and don’t eat plants. They just glide along the leaves eating the algae and tiny food particles on the surface.

They are very chill and unlike other snails, they don’t really come out of their shell, so there isn’t anything for aggressive or hungry fish to nibble on. They are also very hardy.

Weird things you never think of…

There are many things you never think about and when you are hit with the fact it just seems weird or untrue.

  1. Pineapples grow out of the ground. Most of us don’t live in tropical fruit fields but we all assume that fruit grows on a tree or on a vine. Bananas, apples, oranges, lemons, limes, cherries, all on a tree. Then you take a vacation to Hawaii and see the pineapple fields and BAM they grow out of the ground. And it just seems wrong.
  2. Peacocks roost in trees. I’ve only seen peacocks roaming the perfect keep lawn in some stately manner, a zoo, or in ads. I have never ever thought about where do peacocks come from and where do they sleep. It’s like they aren’t even a real bird species, they seem like something a 14c eccentric nobleman created for a monarch I was on a bus tour and the guide said if you look behind you will see peacocks roosting in the trees. As to where they come from, it’s India.
  3. What late-breaking medical treatment will be made fun of in the future? We all laugh at the crazy cures ancient cultures and more recent ones have, but in 500 years what crazy cure will people make fun of? Like LOL can you believe people in 2000 thought antibiotics worked, I’m glad I live in the now where laser fixes everything.
  4. How does a microwave work? There are a number of people that know how they work but I would say most people don’t think about it. This is something we grew up with, you open the door, enter a time, and bam it’s warm. Also, those easy bake ovens with lightbulbs don’t help clear up the issue.
  5. What’s the difference between Mist and Fog, partly sunny and partly cloudy, and why is inflammable and flammable the same thing?
    1. Fog is a low-lying cloud, Mist forms when water droplets hanging in the air by magic or force.
    2. However, according to the National Weather Service, partly cloudy and partly sunny mean exactly the same thing, however partly sunny can only be used doing the day.
    3. Straight from the dictionary: Inflammable and flammable are synonyms and mean “able to burn” even though they look like opposites. In this case, rather than the prefix in- meaning “not,” as it often does, “inflammable” comes from the latin verb inflammare, which means “to cause to catch fire.” “Flammable” was coined later from a translation of the latin verb flammare (“to catch fire”), which inflammare is related to.
  6. If you find this information useful or fun I highly recommend two BBC series QI (Quite Interesting) and Horrible Histories.

PhotoShop Oil Painting Style

I’ve started playing around with the Oil Painting Style in Photoshop, and below might be my favorite result. This is Lake Eibsee in southern Germany.

What I ended up with.

I have found that animals and landscape are the best types of photos to try this out on. I’m sure there is a technical reason for it but I’m too lazy to google. Just click on the photo above if you want to know more about the photo.

You just open a photo in Photoshop, go to Filter, Stylize, then Oil Paint.

Just a few clicks and you are done.

Then play around with the sliders and you are done.

Forced Creativity part something

For this project I used the app PhotoScape X, there is free version and a Pro version at 35 USD (one time cost). I am not sponsored by this app,

I used texture filters, pre-created shapes, and bright colors to create digital Images. The one below is rectangles lined against each other with an added paper texture filter to create an abstract watermelon. I started with the dark green colors of the rind which merged into the bright red of the fruit, last stripe of color is black for the watermelon seeds.

The next one I created with a bright yellow background, then added the triangles shapes in neon blue and purple. The last step is an already create swirling shape in the app, I just changed the color of the design.

So go crazy add circles, squares, and triangles in different size and colors, use paint brushes to create blobs of colors, or add premade filters to a brackground and change the colors.

Some other examples of abstract backgrounds.

My Logic Brain Ruins Another Movie!

Spoilers for Netflix Film Stowaway

Plot holes and plot devices don’t bother me if I’m entertained or the movie uses magic logic. However, a “serious” movie that’s using a series of medical or mechanical mishaps just irks me… by a lot.

A good example would be sci-fi where the space ships seem to fly faster than the speed of light, which in theory isn’t possible*. The shows/movies never say they are traveling faster than light, they could be bending space via some tech that moves point B five miles from point A. When you try to ground and make something real then the logic falls apart and I just picking at the holes.

The latest logic ruin movie is Stowaway. Many of the unfortunate series of effects seem fetched and not possible. Which made me start picking at the movie when I realized this story has been told before in the Martian, Apollo 13, and Saving Private Ryan to name a few. You have a group of people who try every single possible avenue to save one person.

Which made me think why replay this theme, we’ve seen it before and it was more entertaining. Why not go the other way, you have four people in a craft built for three and there are no options left. How do you decide, what do you do if the person with the short straw doesn’t want to go, how does the group of three interact six months or a year later while still stuck in a tin can. How do you save the many if the one doesn’t agree, seems like that would be a more interesting story.

What movies have you ruined with a logic brain?

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.

Swirling clouds in violet haze

Help, it’s one year into COVID shut down and I’ve run out of photos to re-edit, my pets & kids run away when I get the camera out, and now I have nothing else to shoot. Well, worry not, because I have a photo idea for you.

Do not operate heavy machinery while looking at this photo.
It is suggested that you listen in 70’s psychedelic music when viewing this object.

Items you will need:

  1. Items you will need: Glass or crystal ball, also called a photo ball. It’s a hunk of glass in a sphere shape, you can purchase it at camera stores or any retail store like walmart, amazon, etc.
  2. LED Lights on a metal (usually it’s cooper) string, which allows you to create shapes with the lights.
  3. A camera and tripod.
  4. A room that can be made dark.
  5. Patience.

I wrapped the LED string around my fingers to create a stand, then I placed the glass ball on top of the LED strings. Then set up the tripod and use the speed option on your Camera.

The speed option, usually the letter S on the camera dial, lets you slow or speed up the shutter speed. The lower the number the faster it goes, like a blink vs a slow wink.

For a photo like the above, we need to slow the camera down, try a 5 to 10-second shutter speed, which lets the camera soak in the light. Try taking a photo at different heights and angles because the light will reflect in different patterns.

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.