Piles of Dirt and Kaspar

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   Sometimes lots full of dirt can be quite pretty.....

   I learned about an interesting historical character recently, a boy named Kaspar Hauser. He was found staggering the streets of Germany with a letter clutched in his childish hand. The letter was addressed to a captain of a cavalry. The letter declared that his father was a cavalry man and the boy also desired to follow in his fathers footsteps. But young Kaspar seemed to have no grasp of language himself. He could only say a couple of phrases which he repeated over and over again. Eventually, a kindly man taught the intelligent youth how to speak German. Kaspar was able to reveal more of his past. He said he spent his life living in a dark room with only a couple of toys as companions. Every morning, he was given bread and water. Sometimes his water would taste bitter. After he drank the bitter water, he would fall asleep and later wake up to find his nails and hair trimmed. At first, everyone was enthralled and sympathetic to Kaspar. But as time went on, people were suspicious that he was a hoaxer and a fraud. But no one was able to prove one way or another if Kaspar Hauser was a fraud, and before people really had a chance to investigate, Kaspar died from a fatal stab wound. Hauser said before he died that he was stabbed by a stranger but many suspect that he stabbed himself. To this day, both his life and death are a mystery. 

Information about Kaspar Hauser found:
Winder, Simon. "Kaspar Hauser: The Original 'Forest Boy." The Gaurdian. 19th September 2011. Web. 21st April 2015.  

"Kaspar Hauser." Wikipedia: The Free Encylopedia. Wikipedia Foudation Inc. 5 May 2015. Web. 21 May 2015.

Jack, Albert. "Loch Ness Monsters and Raining Frogs: The World's Most Puzzling Mysteries Solved." New York NY: Random House Trade Paperbacks. Ebook.

Snoqual-you...No Snoqualmie!

    I finally visited Snoqualmie Falls. Snoqualmie Falls is near Seattle and it is definitely a place that draws a lot of tourists. The 268 ft tall falls was made famous by the TV show Twin Peaks. In the shows intro, Snoqualmie Falls is seen raging, the water splashing into a white haze below. It is amazing to experience it in person, because it is not just about the sight of all the water flowing down, but also the sound it makes. It is a beautiful sound! It has a comforting roar to it...like the sound a mighty, yet kind beast would make.

  Here is a picture of David with a look of utter disappointment because he is not allowed to climb. How dare this sign get in the way of a man's desire to climb! Actually, at first I wanted David to take a picture of me with the frowny face by the 'No Climbing' sign, but I kept laughing. David is a much better actor than I. But, as a short person who is often forced into situations where I need to climb (like to get to a high cupboard), I am quite a good climber...so I too am saddened when my desire to climb is stifled by bossy signs, even if the signs are bossy for my own protection.  

First I can't climb, now I can't use my drone! Rules, rules and more rules! 

  Someone put a sticker on the back of this spotlight. This could only have been accomplished by one of three ways: climbing over the fence, stretching their arms Rubber Man style, or using a drone to fly over the fence to stick it on the back of the light.... some people, no regard for the rules!
  While watching all the water falling, I wondered if anyone had ever rode down it in a barrel, the way daredevils do down Niagra Falls. An at-home internet investigation gave me no further information. However, I did discover that a man named Mr. Blondin walked on a tightrope over the falls! (Snoqualmie Falls History)

Heaps of Abandoned Shoes

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  I found some interesting things to take pictures of on my walk from work to downtown.

When a fence has this much barbed wire, it just makes me more curious to know what they are protecting. It must be something pretty good to adorn the fence with such a lavish crown of barbed wire. Hmm...what could be happening behind the gate....Alien experiments? Could their be stashes of ancient pirates gold? Top Secrets for sure. Top secrets that are either sinister or delightful.

   There was something a little eerie about coming across all these discarded shoes. What are they doing here? Why are there so many? Why is there only one pair? Who did they belong too? And do I even want all these questions answered, because what if they are answered and the answer is simple and boring, full of zero mystery at all.
   Abandoned shoes is an actual 'thing.' It even has it's own Wikipedia page! That is how you know something is an actual thing.  The Wikipedia article has a really boring theory that we see more abandoned shoes then other attire because shoes are hardier than a jacket. I don't' think this explains it all though.
  The Abandoned Footwear Wikipedia article also talked about an incident in which an expressway in Florida was covered with abandoned shoes. Apparently, there were thousands of shoes sprinkling the highway and interrupting the normal flow of traffic. This sounds spooky too! It reminds me of stories about storms where it rains fish or frogs. But it turns out there was a semi-normal explanation and the shoes were from a charity that was sending shoes to Haiti. This still doesn't explain how they all got on the highway.
  Something spookier than abandoned shoes though are abandoned feet! There is a sea called Salish Sea that borders British Columbia, Canada and Washington State (Where I live!). For some reason, there have been eleven different detached feet found in the sea since 2007! Only two of these feet have been left feet. It is a mystery to why so many detached feet end up in this sea. Very strange, indeed!

Information about abandoned footwear: "Abandoned Footwear." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia Foundation, Inc. 9 October 2014. Web. 2 April 2015. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abandoned_footwear>

Information about Salish Sea: "Salish Sea Human Foot Discoveries." Wikipedia: The Free Encylopedia. Wikipedia Foundation, inc. 27 March 2015. Web. 2 April 2015  < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salish_Sea_human_foot_discoveries>

Clouds and Amazing Animals

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 I took photo's of deteriorating buildings on a beautifully cloudy day. 

  I am currently reading a book about animals which led me to learn about an interesting animal character: David Greybeard. I love his name! David Greybeard was the first chimpanzee to let Jane Goodall observe him. One thing amazing that Jane Goodall observed David Greybeard do was that he used a tool to retrieve termites from a termite hill. Before this, people thought one of the things that made us unique from animals was that we make and use tools. But it turns out we are not alone in this skill. Sometimes it seems like people are too invested in finding the things that make us different from animals, often in the attempt to prove humans superiority to animals. But it seems as we learn more about animals, we learn either that they are similar to us in more ways than imagined, or we learn about their superiority. For example, raccoons have an amazing sense of touch. There paws have a hyper-sensitive sense of touch. Their paws are protected with a thin, horny layer that when wet is pliable. They are able to understand an object with their sense of touch in a way that humans understand objects by looking at them. The way they understand the world is even more amazing then just their hypersensitive paws. They can sense objects before they even touch them because of hair or whiskers called vibrassae located above their claws. Cats whiskers are another example of vibrassae. Whiskers are used for tactile understanding of the world.
   Another example of an animals with amazing abilities that we lack are bats. Some bats use echolocation to understand their world. The bats make sounds that bounce of the objects around them, and from that they can understand the objects through sound alone. And what about the sea star? In some cases, a sea star can have it's limb amputated, and from that amputated limb, it can grow back it's entire body! Basically, the raccoon, bat and sea star have super hero powers. I think it is time for people to just give up on trying to prove their superiority over animals. Anyhow, it is more fun to live in a world where everyone is amazing, rather than just humans.


Information about David Greybeard: "Kasakela Chimpanzee Community" Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 27 April 2015. Web. 30 April 2015.<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kasakela_Chimpanzee_Community>

Information about Raccons: "Racoon" OneKind. 2010. Web. 30 April 2015.

Information about Whiskers: "Whiskers" Wikipedia:The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 February 2015. Web. 30 April 2015.

Information about Bats: "Fact Sheet Bats" Defenders of Wildlife. 2015. Web. 30 April 2015.

Information about Sea Star: "Starfish (Sea Star)" National Geographic. 1996-2015. Web. 30 April 2015.

Cherry Blossoms and Dinosaurs

   One Spring day, I walked around my neighborhood and took pictures of all the beautiful cherry blossoms. After the gloom, gray and bare branches of Winter, cherry blossoms are quite a wonderful treat.

   Besides the reemergence of flowers in the world, there is more exciting news I've heard recently. After years of persuading the world that the Brontosaurus never existed, experts may have finally relented. The Brontosaurus existed after all! Well, at least some paleontologists believe so.
    The Brontosaurus, a charmer of a dinosaur who's good qualities include it's long neck, appreciation for plants, enormous size and fun-to-say name, has always been one of my favorite dinosaurs. And it's not just me, the Brontosaurus has long been a favorite prehistoric creature of wide-eyed and wonder-filled children everywhere. But, along with the loss of innocence comes the stark 'truth' that the Brontosaurus should be shuffled to the side along with unicorns and Easter bunnies. Instead, we were all told to be happy with the Apatosaurus. The Apatosaurus isn't all bad. But after a childhood of high-regard for the mighty Brontosaurus, the Apatosaurus feels like a second rate compensation of a dinosaur with a name the inspires the imagination to halt.
 A long time ago, scientists mulled over the fossil evidence and decided the Brontosaurus was too similar to the Apatosaurus to be considered a separate and unique dinosaur. Because the Brontosaurus name came second, the paleontologists kept the name Apatosaurus and left behind the name Brontosaurus. But now, a team of true dinosaur heroes, led by scientist Emanuel Tschopp from Universidade Nova de Lisboa, have done an intensive scientific investigation that is chalk full of evidence that the Brontosaurus was indeed a real creature! We may never have Pluto back in the ranks of 'planet', but maybe we will finally have the Brontosaurus back in the ranks of true dinosaur! 

(Information about the reinstating of Brontosaurus as a real dinosaur found at: Brusatte, Stephen. " Why Brontosaurus Is No Longer A Dirty Word For Dinosaur Hunters" IFLScience! April 7th, 2015. Web.  April 22nd, 2015.) 

Honest to Goodness

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Here is a picture I finished recently.

  Honest to goodness, this strange creature survives on sunshine and flounders.

  It happened a long time ago. The bees came in massive swarms and covered the sea with pollen. For a hundred years, the sea swirled with pollen, and when the pollen cleared, the creatures in the sea were different. They were no longer just animals, but they were plants too. Every Spring the animals blossomed and bloomed. Every Summer, they soaked in the sunlight. Every Fall they withered and every Winter the animals were bare and dreary, waiting in anticipation for the sun to return. 

Rain in the Woods

  Living in Washington State, one must learn not to let the rain deter them from outdoor adventuring. Here are some pictures from a rainy day hike. It wasn't just sprinkling either, it was pouring! But it was fun wandering though the woods on a rainy day. The poor weather made the woods seem extra atmospheric and gloomy. A place full of mystery!

   Part of what makes the forest feel full of mystery is that it looks like it could be full of mysterious creatures. The only animals we saw on our hike were birds and a dog that was with a fellow hiker. I love seeing animals on hikes, unless it is a brutal or intimidating animal such as a mountain lion! I am reading a book right now about animals called "Animals Make Us Human" by Temple Grandin. I am currently reading the section on wild animals and I just read interesting facts about mountain lions. Mountain lions are especially scary predator animals to me because I live with an adorable, yet feisty gray kitty. My little guy could do a lot of damage if he tried and he is just a small house cat. I can't imagine what he could do if he had the strength and size of a mountain lion!  
   The book tells the story of a jogger's mangled body discovered in 1991. On witnessing the body, police thought they had an evil serial killer in their midst... the type of grotesque serial killer you'd read about in a disturbing mystery novel. The body  did not look like the careless savagery of a hungry animal. The horrible death looked more thought-out and purposeful. But it turns, out the poor jogger's death was due to a mountain lion. 
   In the past, people thought that mountain lions didn't kill people because it had not happened in such along time. In 1991 when the joggers body was discovered, there hadn't been any known mountain lion deaths for over 100 years. At that point, more people were probably dying in the woods from tripping and falling off the mountain rather than actual mountain lions. But something was changing in the mountain lion community. They no longer stayed in the darkened corners of the forest but were exploring further into common human habitats. The mountain lions behavior started changing because they were learning something new. They were learning that humans could be prey. According to Temple Grandin, it is our behavior that is leading to the mountain lions change in behavior. We are acting like prey when we go jogging through the woods. People use to walk in the woods, but jogging in the woods is much more common now then it use to be. When mountain lions see humans acting like prey (running away), it triggers there predator instinct.  This makes a lot of sense! It shows once again how much our actions impacts animals. And although I will always be nervous about mountain lions, discoveries about their inner thinking like Grandin's actually makes them less scary. They are not malicious when attacking humans, they are responding to some deeper instinctual urge. It is their urge to stalk prey that has led to their survival as a species. 
(Information about mountain lions learned from this source: Grandin, Temple and Catherine Johnson. Animals Make Us Human. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009. Print. Pages 247-248)
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