Capturing A Snow Leopard……….On Camera

24 06 2015

Snow Leopard

A few weeks ago, me and my Mam had a day out at the South Lakes Wild Animal Park (or South Lakes Safari Zoo as it is now known) in Dalton-in-Furness. It’s not the first time we have gone there; we’ve visited it a lot with family and friends for roughly over 10 years now. It is a brilliant place that has different species of animals on show and even has some breeds live in the same enclosures. One of the key stand out features of the zoo though is its feeding times. On several occasions I have seen the animal talks and feedings and once hand fed a Lemur.

Racoon

The star attraction of feeding time is quite possibly the big cats. Animals like African Lions, Sumatran Tigers, Jaguars and many more get fed in a rather interesting way; by placing big chunks of meat atop large vertical poles. The idea is that when the animals are let out of their houses, they climb up the poles to get the food, meaning that they have to work for it, and helps to keep them fit. Over the last few years the park itself has been in a state of expansion with new areas and enclosures being built, with plans to introduce new species. This past visit, I was mostly caught up in looking at the new species with animals I had not seen before like the Giant Anteater, Sri Lankan Leopards, Arctic Wolves, Hornbills and (very briefly) Tayras.

Hornbill

One of the exhibits I took a shine to though was the Snow Leopards. The Snow Leopards aren’t really all that new; the last time I went to the zoo in July 2013 they had just arrived, but this was the first time that I had really seen them active instead of asleep. They were residing in the enclosure that the Lion’s used to occupy (the Lions now having a brand new enclosure). The enclosure was more of a rocky environment than one of grass and trees like it used to be. When we arrived at the enclosure, we were able to spot one of the Snow Leopards rather quickly, and as we went round onto the viewing platform to look down inside the enclosure (and opposite to the Arctic Wolf enclosure) we could spot another one, nicely blending into the rocks.

2 Snow Leopards

As the day went past, we looked at some of the other animals and enclosures, but discovered that due to the new species and ever-growing zoo, that feeding times for animals had been moved around. Wanting to watch the Arctic Wolf feeding (as we had never seen it before), we went down to the enclosure to watch, but it turns out they weren’t feeding them on that day (despite being given a leaflet which said that they were). What they were feeding though were the Snow Leopards. It wasn’t anything new really, other than it being a new species, it was the same routine as with the Lions and Tigers; shimmy up the pole. There was a lot of people round so getting a view was hard, but I was able to see them climb the pole and eat the food.

Snow Leopard Eating

I then had an idea. As it was, the animals were given two servings of food, and so I thought that if I could wait around a bit, I could potentially capture a video of the Snow Leopards climbing up the fence. My camera does come with a basic recording feature, so I set the camera to it and waited. The thing was, the animals were eating rather chewy bits of meat and did take some time to eat their meals. So while I waited, I occasionally glimpsed at the Arctic Wolves and marvelled at how bushy the Snow Leopard’s tails were.

Arctic Wolf

Sometime later though, not too long though, the cats decided they had had enough of their first servings, and proceeded to have their seconds. I quickly got my camera ready and was just able to get a video of them climbing up the poles, grabbing the food, then jumping off and begin to munch away. I was quite relieved as I wondered if I was actually going to get it. When we got back home, after uploading my photos onto Facebook, I then uploaded my video to YouTube, and it came out quite well. In the past I have been able to get pictures of the big cats eating, but I think this is the first time I got a video. I now just need to do it for all the other big cats (and possibly the other animals too).

GENEPOOL





Do You Like My Picture?

13 05 2015

Loch Ness Monster Thunderstorm

This past Sunday, just before and after a Fellowship Meal at church, I drew a picture of the Loch Ness Monster in a Thunderstorm. I was basically just standing around near what is now the former bookstall, and I saw some paper, felt tip pens and a clipboard. Just out of the corner of my mind I wanted to draw a picture. So I took my writing pen and used it to draw the picture at the top of this post.

Loch Ness Monster

I did not originally intend to draw the Loch Ness Monster. What was going through my mind at the time were those excellent shots during the opening and early to mid-parts of the 2014 Godzilla film, with Godzilla’s spines protruding out of the water like a shark fin. I actually quite like that effect and the accompanying soundtrack, and since the film’s release have watched those scenes every now and then. When I was about to draw the picture, that was what I wanted to draw; a landscape picture of the spines rising out of the water and moving along. However I could not figure out how to do it.

I had an idea, but to get the right impression, it needed some kind of form below the spines, but still risen out of the water. Instead I just drew the neck, body and tail of the Loch Ness Monster rising out of the water, just because really; and then added spines on the back. I decided not to give the Monster a face as I did not know how to present it. While the Monster has not necessarily been presented with spines in the past, I thought giving it some in my picture would give the creature a much darker look. The thunder-storm came as wanting to have something more in the picture while still presenting it as dark as possible. As for providing colour, I decided in the end to keep it minimal, just have a water effect and colour for the creature’s body. That was still rather simple though. The neck, tail and body of the creature was done using a standard pencil, while the water was a blue, brown (because I thought it was black) and purple felt tip and my drawing pen. While it is still very minimal, I think it works.

Nessie

I actually quite enjoyed drawing my little picture. I already have some ideas for other pictures, although I am not really considering becoming an artist. I just fancy drawing some more pictures like this, ones with monsters in of course, but possibly with some other things going on. I quite like the idea of having a creature hiding behind a Nuclear Explosion (not necessarily Godzilla, but that could be an option). I still fancy producing Godzilla’s spines rising out of the water at some point; but I am not going to rush it. Instead I am just going to enjoy my picture, and enjoy the next time I produce one.

Godzilla Beach

GENEPOOL





I Am Not Cut Out For Space Exploration

1 04 2015

Space Planet

Recently I have been playing FTL: Faster Than Light on Steam. It is a rather fun game. It’s sort of a cross between a puzzle game and an RTS (Real Time Strategy) intermixed with the subject of space exploration. I quite like it and continue to play it, but it has taught me one important thing; and that is that I am not cut out for space exploration (even though the likelihood of me receiving the opportunity of going up into space in the first place is very unlikely).

FTL

Now basing such a statement on a video game could be seen as something of a rash statement, but here is why I think that. When I got it; it made me think of games like Evil Genius in terms of its internal look, as in the ships in FTL looks like the lair design in Evil Genius. I liked the idea of doing something similar to Star Trek or possibly Firefly (Even though I have not seen Firefly and do not consider myself a Star Trek Fan, even though I have watched the occasional episode of Next Generation and occasionally Voyager). Just the idea of going through space, exploring it and controlling the aspects of my ship while engaged in specific situations.

Space Shuttle

The thing is, for many years I have calculated that I would more than likely go insane if I went into space. Just the idea of being somewhere that I would not exactly consider safe, but also being left to drift in space, even if I was in a ship or station. But it’s from playing FTL that I came to the conclusion of the earlier statement. While I have begun to improve through understandings of previous missions that have all gone belly up, even so much to the point of me having yet to clear the first stage of galaxies (I have unlocked the second ship; The Torus, even though it is a pretty pointless ship) my planning and reactions in the heat of the situation usually lead me to defeat. Some of these though can come down to me causing the issues from bad planning and excessively opening the doors. When an intruder is on board, or in more common occurrences, a fire breaks out, my first plan is to cordon off the areas where my ship’s crew are, and then open the doors into space to suck out the oxygen. It works mostly, but eventually people break through the doors. When an intruder is on board though, I usually stick as much of my crew as I can, in the medical bay so that when the intruders get there, my crew get healed quickly. These ideas though don’t work all the time and sometimes my crew will die trying to put the fire out as the doors are broken and me having to regularly send them to the medical bay before they die. Unless of course the medical bay is damaged and needs fixing, or the oxygen is cut off.

Kestrel

Other cases though include my willingness to fight ships to gain resources off them and denying them surrender in the hope of getting more resources off them. Eventually this has led to complete destruction, uncontrollable fires, intruders on board and oxygen leaks. The number of dead Kestrel spaceships that must be floating through space thanks to me must be astronomical. While my learning of these situations has led me to the point that I need to upgrade what systems I can to expect these situations, I need to show restraint when given the opportunity to fight, as well as let them surrender every now and then.

Kestrel In Space

I don’t know if FTL is how space exploration works or not, but given that I am playing it on easy mode and I have met failure on several occasions, I can quite confidently say; that I am not cut out for Space Exploration.

Space Planets

GENEPOOL





Pleasant Dreams And The World Of Nightmares: A Short History In Honour Of What Was Once My Bed – Part 2

4 03 2015

My Bed 1

You may remember a few weeks ago I did a post on the demise of my bed of 20 years. Well over the last few weeks I have been preparing for its replacement. When the first bed broke I was ill with a sore throat and a cold. I was not in the best shape to go out and get a new bed. So for the period of over a week I slept on the mattress on the floor. While it may have not been a real bed I was able to get straight to sleep.

My Bed 3

The second Saturday after the original bed breaking, I was well enough to go with my dad to a shopping/business estate between Lancaster and Morecambe (White Lund Industrial Estate I think) to go and buy a new bed. We went to Bensons for Beds which was located in a store of Harveys; on the top floor. There we met a sales assistant who showed me a bed. I wanted a frame one as I needed the space underneath it to store stuff. The first bed he showed me was great. I pretty much decided there and then that it was the bed I wanted. It was comfortable and large enough for me. There was one problem though. It had a mattress underneath it also for use as a temporary second bed if I had guests around. I did not really need it, but they said they could give me one without, so job done really. Next up he showed me a mattress. A large one on another bed. It was rather comfortable too so my bed was ready. First bed with Second Mattress.  The bed however was made to order so it would be about 2-3 (possibly 4) weeks after the order that it would be delivered. Late February (last Thursday). So it was back to the floor mattress bed for now.

My Old Bed Ends

Over the next few weeks I got used to my new sleeping position. Then as the week of the bed delivery approached, crisis struck. I had another sore throat. Exactly 4 weeks from the last one. I think I caught it off a member of the family. Luckily it was not too bad but bad enough for me not to do any dissertation work at the time. I just went into recovery mode. During the week though it developed into a minor but bad possible case of the flu but quickly turned into a cold. Last Wednesday (the day it became a flu/cold based illness) I felt well enough to go to Preston and University. Throughout the day though I had a really bad case of dehydration. So much so to the point that on my way back to the train station, even though I had had 2 bottles of Drench (and recently) I felt so dry and horrible. I still went to play Board Games (my weekly Wednesday activity) at Juicafe where I got a hot chocolate which helped. For the rest of the week till Sunday, I had a very bad cold. I am a lot better now though.

My Old Bed Nuts

During the week though I still had to get my room ready. So on one day I took the old bed to pieces and stored it on the landing until they could be removed.

My Old Bed Slides and RIbs

I then removed the boxes from underneath it and storing them in my brother’s room (he currently lives in Edinburgh and the room is used for storage). Doing this though brought on an element of nostalgia though and I couldn’t help but rummage through bits of my old train set (something I intend to redo at some point in the future), and especially take out Smokey Joe and dust him off a bit.

Smokey Joe

I now fancy getting some track together and a transformer to see if he still runs.

Where My Old Bed Was

Anyway my room was now ready for the new bed and on Thursday it arrived. Due however to being so ill, I did not fancy either moving it upstairs to my room or putting it together, so it was left in the corridor.

New Bed In Corridor

On Friday I was feeling a little better and was able to do some Dissertation Work so I moved the bed upstairs with help from my Brother. However still did not feel too great. Then on Saturday I decided to give the construction a go. After putting the bolts into the bed ends I stuck the first series of Black Books on and built my bed. It was relatively easy, but rather complex to do on your own, particularly when it comes to tightening bolts. A spanner was provided for the bed end bolts but the holes were rather small to get the spanner in. Eventually they were as tight as I could get them. I then used the wooden bed frame as a work bench to put the metal frame together. This took one whole episode to do (the one where Manny thinks he is a Policeman). The main problem was bolting four bits together with 8 screws and having to line all the holes up. A couple of times I had to loosen tightened up bolts just to get other bolts in. But soon it was done. Next I had to put the ribs in. I asked my parents which way up they should be as the ribs had a bend in them. My dad suggested that the bends would straighten when the mattress was put on top of the ribs with the bends in up. Putting the bends in was relatively straight forward as all I had to do was put them in plastic holders and then put the holders in the metal frame. After this all I had to do was put the wooden frame right way up, then put the metal frame in and then put the mattress on top. Even though I put the metal frame in first then put the ribs in instead of risking them falling out of the metal frame when stood up. All that was left to do was put the mattress on top (even though a rib did jump out so I needed to replace it quickly).

New Bed Without Bedding

When I did that I noticed how tall it looked. I also felt the surface was rather rough. I then checked underneath it and discovered it had a softer side. Realizing I Had put it the wrong way up I turned it over and then it was done. I then pushed it into its correct place and watched the last episode of the first series of Black Books. During the evening I popped out to Southport with a few friends to attend Young Life but when I returned I had new bedding ready to put on my new bed. So I did that, and as the night came in I had my first proper sleep in the bed. It still felt quite high up. Earlier in the day I just sat on it and it and my feet could not touch the floor. But this time I did not mind all that much, and instead had a great night sleep. Since then I still have been getting some good nights. On Sunday evening I found myself having lack of sleep due to having a nap earlier in the day. Altogether though I am enjoying my new bed and am glad that I now have it. I still have some remaining work to do including sorting out the boxes in my brother’s room, getting rid of the old bed altogether including the mattress and disposing of all the rubbish and have a Hoover of my room. But for now I am glad that I can sleep in a bed once again, hopefully for another 20 years.

New Bed with Bedding

GENEPOOL





Please Turn Over (P.T.O.) or Turn Page Over (T.P.O.)?

25 02 2015

Pen and Paper

For well over 10 years now, when I have written a piece of work and reached the bottom of the page, I have written the abbreviation T.P.O. instead of the standardised abbreviation P.T.O. Now while this subject may appear to be a bit of a weird thing to see on a blog post, I just thought I would pose and analyse the question as to which way it should be (this probably won’t be a long post).

Page Turning

I used to think it was T.P.O. because the abbreviation (at least in my mind) for Turn Page Over made more sense than writing P.T.O. because the abbreviation Please Turn Over did not really work for me as Please Turn Over does not exactly state to the person who sees it what exactly they should be turning over. If it is at the bottom of the page I can understand P.T.O. could be directed at the page and the reader to turn over the page, but as it is not necessarily used in that situation all the time, I think it is a rather ambiguous term to use. One time I had seen the term put to use in a non-page turning position; in an episode of the BBC Two show Robot Wars when the robot Pitbull had it on the underside as a possible way to get the other robots to turn it up the right way again (which worked once against Behemoth, but not against Firestorm).

Robot Wars Logo

I think the term T.P.O. works much better than P.T.O. as it defines what needs to be turned over; even though it could also be said that I started writing T.P.O. at the time I discovered P.T.O. But still I think T.P.O. is the better terminology due to it being more defined by mentioning the word Page with a P. Not unless the abbreviation P.T.P.O. (Please Turn Page Over) is introduced? What do you think?

GENEPOOL (Bit of a weird post I know, but I thought it might be fun to do it).








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