Ulitsa Dimitrova

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I’m a casual video gamer. As a teacher I’m also interested philosophically in the premise that games can be used effectively in learning. So a recent tweet from someone I follow on Twitter, pointing to this game, interested me.

“This is a game about a seven year old homeless child who lives in St. Petersburg. He’s a chainsmoker and has to get cigarettes all the time. And if you stop playing—”

I highly recommend the trailer. Somehow after watching it I didn’t want to download the game, but the point was made.

Sleepy bees

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2 bees on thistle flower 1

Bumblebees often seem to settle for the night wherever they are when it gets too cold for them to fly—I found 3 on irises I was deadheading recently—and the other day I found these little guys in an early morning meadow. It was a great opportunity, as bees are usually there and gone before I can get the camera focused.  Continue reading

Froggy time of year

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treefrog on iris leaves

Peekaboo.

This is the time of year when the wee frogs start emerging from the pond; I’ve found a couple while deadheading irises (DON’T get me started on the idiocy of the people who planted them in the first place). When I spotted this little guy I grabbed my camera and shot a few pictures.

side view of treefrog on leaf

They’re not as crisp as they could be; the light was really too low for handholding…

treefrog on fingertip

….especially when handholding with one hand because the frog was on the other one. But good enough, I think.

Yard mods

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2 guys shoving tree debris into a chipper

A busy day today. The Limber Tree Service came and took out two pines that were leaning over the house, and cut back a whack of the weeping willow*. (There’s lots more to do, but it’s a good start; the rest will wait till the fall sometime.) We ended up with an ginormous pile of chips (look at them flying out the end of the chipper! whee!), so our yardwork regimen for some time to come will involve moving wheelbarrows of them to mulch garden beds and paths.

What with the new vistas and the mulch, everything will look MUCH different.

*And what did we do while they worked their butts off? We rode our bikes from one end of the island to the other and had lunch on the patio at Silva Bay.

The other irises

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purple and yellow iris 1

The owners who landscaped around our yard and around the pond, long before we bought the property, planted yellow flag irises. Sigh. Much of my yard work every summer is a long, futile, and very muddy attempt to fight this invasive species back. (One strategy I’ve seen described: cover the plants with a heavy tarp, weight it down, make sure it extends well beyond the area of the plants; leave the tarp in place for several YEARS and you MIGHT kill them.)

But elsewhere in the yard—in a dry spot—there’s another iris. I don’t know what it is, some sort of purple flag? I don’t think it’s a native variety, but it’s hard to know. Unlike most irises I’ve seen, it’s got very subtle colours—the purple and yellow together almost have a brownish tinge. The flowers are smaller and seem less floppy than many irises. It’s so self-effacing that the flowers always take me by surprise: omg, there are flowers here!

purple and yellow iris 2

It’s not flashy, but it sure is elegant.

purple and yellow iris 3

“There’s no one way to be beautiful.”

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Yesterday someone I follow on Twitter retweeted a link to a Cosmopolitan article. A young journalist had sent a photo of herself, with no makeup, to a bunch of Photoshoppers and asked them to “make me look beautiful.” If they weren’t sure what she meant, she said that they should “make her look like “a woman in one of their country’s fashion magazines.” (I could challenge the assumptions that fashion = beauty and requires makeup, but never mind, it was given as a reference point for the project and such a challenge is a whole ‘nother post.)

This article collects the initial results of her project.

And those results are quite interesting. As the article points out, most included light skin and blue or green eyes, showing “how euro-centric beauty ideals are around the world.” But apart from that, there are some interesting variations and flavours in regional ideas of beauty. Germany seems very avant-garde, for example. Images from some countries look more “natural” than others.

Most Photoshoppers focused on applying digital makeup and removing perceived imperfections (what is seen as an imperfection is interesting in itself). But the ones that stood out to me were the ones from the Philippines and the US, which went further than that. Okay, changing the hair is something that could go along with using makeup. But in the left-hand image from the US, the artist even changed the facial proportions. The result is that she is completely unrecognizable and looks like she’s about fourteen instead of twenty-four.

Make me look beautiful, she said. This may look like someone in a fashion magazine, but it’s no longer her. What does that say about ideals of beauty?

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