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Carol and Stick Insect_4

If you volunteer at the zoo (or get an internship), you might get to hold a bug* too.

* Technically, a stick insect is not a bug because it doesn’t suck. It chews instead.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Prairie Dog_10

I will discharge it in either your straw-colour

beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain

beard, or your French-crown-colour beard, your

perfect yellow.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.


Sep. 20th, 2017 02:00 pm
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Grackle starting to think this isn’t St. Louis after all.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Russian Squirrel

Squirrel pondering his investment options.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Prairie Dog_8

I do digest the poison of thy flesh,

Being strumpeted by thy contagion.

Keep then far league and truce with thy true bed;

I live unstain’d, thou undishonoured.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.


Sep. 19th, 2017 02:01 pm
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Some cows aren’t tall enough to lick the food out of people’s hands.

Some cows have developed workarounds.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Pallas Cat

Sep. 18th, 2017 11:00 pm
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Pallas Cat_7

One of these guard cats only tells lies. The other only tells lies as well.

Basically, cats don’t care about your petty human concept of “truth”.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Prairie Dog_5

“Thou wilt be throng’d to shortly.”

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.


Sep. 18th, 2017 02:01 pm
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Porcupine that just downloaded the Shazam app and is realizing that it is of no use whatsoever in identifying the plaintful music that he hears in his dreams, echoing strains of melody like tendrils holding his mind hostage until the wee hours of the morning yawn and spread wide to welcome the day.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Pallas Cat

Sep. 17th, 2017 11:00 pm
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Pallas Cat_6

Pallas cat kittens are not all equally brave.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Dead Tree

Sep. 16th, 2017 08:34 pm
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Dead Tree_1

Some people are taking civil war erasure a bit too far.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.


Sep. 3rd, 2017 04:15 am
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North American River Otter_1

This otter couldn’t sleep until he finished fact-checking “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac

Now here you go again, you say

You want your freedom

[True. Freedom is something all otters want]

Well who am I to keep you down

It’s only right that you should

Play the way you feel it

[True. Play is very important and should not be stopped by anyone]

But listen carefully to the sound

Of your loneliness

[False. Loneliness has no sound]

Like a heartbeat drives you mad

In the stillness of remembering what you had

And what you lost, and what you had, and what you lost

[False.  Despite the accuracy of one’s memory, one’s heartbeat cannot cause insanity.]

Thunder only happens when it’s raining

[False. Thunder happens when there is lighting. Lightning does not require rain.]

Players only love you when they’re playing

[False. While common, there have documented evidence of love regardless of the game being played]

Say women they will come and they will go

[True. In the grand fullness of time, we will all go]

When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know, you’ll know

[False. You will know that you are wet. Knowing whether one is clean requires more than mere rain]

Now here I go again, I see the crystal visions

I keep my visions to myself, it’s only me

[False. Visions have been shared in many of Fleetwood Mac’s songs ]

Who wants to wrap around your dreams and,

Have you any dreams you’d like to sell?

[Possibly true. Selling dreams is possible, though they are usually converted into other forms first, such as novels, plays, or movies.]

Dreams of loneliness,

[Possibly true, but unlikely to sell at a reasonably high price]

(Chorus repeats)

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.


Aug. 27th, 2017 11:00 pm
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Though they passed the first screen test, they failed at the howling.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.


Aug. 27th, 2017 06:01 pm
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On some people, though, orange looks good.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.


Aug. 27th, 2017 02:00 pm
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A while ago, I complained about photos of corn. This is an example of why.

At Ag Day in July, they set out these bins of seeds for kids to play in as if they were a sandbox. It was incredibly popular with the kids, so I took a lot of photos. What I didn’t realize at the time was that full sun reflecting off the corn would drastically change the highlights on people’s faces. In short, turning everyone bright orange. You’d think they’d be yellowed, but I guess the blood in the skin makes things orange.

Since I’m colour-blind, I may have mis-corrected, but what I found that worked was to process the photo like normal, then create an adjustment mask and hand-paint all the areas that were overly-highlighted (highlit?) and reduce the amount of orange in that mask. That results in a photo like this, where there’s a decent amount of yellow reflecting off the corn, but the people don’t look like painted monsters.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.


Aug. 26th, 2017 11:01 pm
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The chaulk artist at the zoo has a different theory as to what is causing all those sinkholes in Siberia.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Pallas Cat

Aug. 25th, 2017 04:10 pm
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Pallas Cat_21

Because she cares about the future generation, this pallas cat wants you to know that I have changed the configuration of my websites so visitor data is only retained for one day.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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I mentioned over on Facebook a while back that I did something I’ve wanted to do for over a decade, but that I couldn’t talk about it yet. I can talk about it now.

Behold, a two day old Pallas Cat* kitten from Red River Zoo. I just happened to be there shortly after the birth and, because I have worked with the zoo before, we found a way for me to take photos without bothering the mother. Pallas Cats are notoriously grouchy and frightful and if the photoshoot distressed the mother, it could have boded ill for the kittens. Because the kittens are at high risk in their first 21 days, they are kept off exhibit and monitored from afar.

To get this shot, I was about fifty feet** away. The kittens were in a very dark part of the enclosure and were so very tiny. I am going to guess that this kitten head was about the size of a large grape*** when I took the photo. I didn’t have my best lens with me and I couldn’t use a tripod, as it could scare the mother. Really, I am quite lucky to get this shot.

In looking through the other photos, I thought I counted about five fuzzy lumps, which seemed like a lot. Nonetheless, I told the zoo that I was pretty confident that I saw three**** heads and there might be as many as five**** in there. As it turns out, the magic number was actually five. See official announcement here: https://www.facebook.com/redriverzoo/photos/a.121326804573286.8147.102563593116274/1397393543633266/?type=3

Like much wildlife, Pallas cats are facing a declining population due to habitat destruction, being hunted for their fur, and poisoning campaigns that are intended to control the pika. The Red River Zoo has a strong history of helping to preserve this species. I was fortunate last summer to take photos of their new male, brought in to add genetic diversity to the reserve population in zoos. It’s very nice to see that he’s been doing his job.

Cute as they are, you don’t want them as pets. The Pallas cat has been described as being one of the meanest cats out there, having evolved in extreme isolation. I have been told that the kittens are born growling. Then a few weeks later, their eyes open and they start growling *at* things.

So while it’s not the world’s greatest photo, I am extremely pleased to be able to share it.


* “Manul” for those of you from northern Asian countries

** 15m for those of you from civilized countries

*** A kumquat for those of you from delicious countries

**** III and V for those of you from ancient countries

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Making dead wood more bless’d than living lips.

Since saucy jacks so happy are in this,

Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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Sometimes I can’t come up with a good caption but want to share the photo anyway.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.


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