Thursday, May 31, 2012

Animals: Amusing and Adorable!

    Most animals are natural comedians not to mention quite 'awwww' inducing. Here are some funny animals and cute animals.

    This is my cat Wendel. He likes to sleep on top of the fish tank. Sometimes he lets his tail dangle in the water. It cracks me up! In these pictures the water is low so his tail (and paw) is only dangling right above the water. But I've caught him with his tail fully immersed. He seems quite unperturbed by the wetness, which is surprising knowing cat's natural dislike for water. Especially because Wendel in particular seems to have a strong dislike for water. If I drink a glass of water with to much enthusiasm, he freaks out and runs away. Its that sloshing sound of water that really gets him.

    These pictures are from a couple of years ago and I may have shared them on this blog in the past, but they is worth revisiting, because they too cracks me up! It's Wendel climbing on the screen door at my old apartment. I was sitting at my desk and I looked over and there was Wendel, clinging precariously to the screen door. He was probably thinking "What did I get myself into?" or "This sure is a good stretch."

    Cats aren't the only funny animals, squirrels are pretty hilarious too. I came home from an outing and saw this squirrel leaping along my fence. He had something huge and round in his mouth. I didn't know what it was for a while, but now I know. It's a bread roll. I have no idea where he got it from. There is something funny about tiny animals eating something disproportionately large. This little guy's got quite the appetite! He didn't feel safe eating his roll on the fence so he nimbly climbed up the tree trunk and enjoyed his bread roll from up high. While I took pictures of him he glared down at me, thinking "don't even think about it lady, this roll is all mine!!!"

    One of my roommates from college brought with her to the dorms a VHS of one of her childhood favorites. It was entitled "Baby Animals Just Want To Have Fun." It was full of baby animals doing what they do best, behaving in an adorable manner. Here are some baby geese I came across recently. I live near lots of water and every spring I look forward to seeing the baby geese and ducks. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Egg Experiences an Existential Crisis

He is a comic I made several months ago and finally finished formatting recently.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Duel Incidents on the Bus

    Here are some pictures I took recently while at a friends house. They are pictures of Aurora Ave. Aurora is a bit dingy, but in an interesting way that makes me want to take lots of photographs. The city is trying to clean up the image of Aurora by closing down all the cheap motels that charge by the hour. After one of the motels closed down, the graffiti artists took over and decorated the place with words and pictures. I always meant to take photos, but I never found myself in the area and now it has been torn down. Hopefully somewhere on the internet the motel still exists in pictures.

    A couple of months ago while riding a bus down this very road, I had an interesting encounter on the bus. Any bus rider living in a city is bound to have a handful of bus stories chronicling the odd occurrences experienced while trying to get from one place to the next. Most of my bus stories include a shady looking man offering me swigs from a bottle of unspecified liquor, not so discreetly hidden from view by a brown paper bag. I always promptly but politely decline their offer. Not offended but eager to share, they then offer their beverage to an equally uninterested bus passenger. Of course, not all bus incidents involve undrunk liquor.
    Recently, I encountered my most dramatic bus incident yet! What made this bus incident especially dramatic was that there were two different occurrences happening simultaneously. Drama was unfolding in the front of the bus where I was sitting while passengers in the back of the bus were subjected to their own drama. I was reading a book and listening to headphones when the drama began, so I was unaware anything fishy was going on. Usually I am more tuned in to good eavesdropping opportunities, but it must have been an off day.
    My first clue that something strange was happening was when I saw a man from the back of the bus rush to the front of the bus with quick strides. He and the bus driver briefly spoke to each other, but I didn’t take off my headphones to listen to this exchange. I assumed the man missed his stop and was asking the bus driver to stop in between stops for him. This is a common enough request, especially on an express route (which we were on) where stops are not close to each other. But even the most ardently told sob story will not convince a hardened bus driver to stop in between stops. They have heard it all! The bus passenger walked back to his spot in the back of the bus. I thought he walked back with defeat in his gait at his failed request, but I would learn later that my assumptions about the driver and passengers exchange were all wrong.
    I continued reading and listening to music when my eye was drawn to two men in the front of the bus, maybe ten feet away from me (maybe more, I am a pretty bad at visualizing distances). One of the men was a young man with a scowl on his round face. He held himself with and air of casual defiance in hopes that his body language would distract from the fact that he still had the pudgy face of a younger teen. He seemed to be working very hard to cultivate an attitude of toughness. The other person was an older man sitting in a motorized wheel chair scooter. He had a red truckers hat and a beard. He looked like the type of guy who when he was young was a bit of an idealist and thought he would never grow up to be grouchy or cynical. But then something happened along the way and the loss of his idealism only made him more grouchy and cynical then he would have been if he had never been idealistic. In the pause between the songs on my headphones, I heard a bit of their conversation. The older man said “Well, do you need assistance getting off the bus?” He said it loudly with a slight edge in his tone. The young man said “Yeah, yeah I do!” It was an odd conversation, but for some uncharacteristic reason, I deemed it unworthy of pausing my music to eavesdrop. I think my reasoning was that angry people on the bus is very common. Its hard to be squeezed on a swaying bus with a bunch of strangers when you’d rather be at your destination. Some people don’t handle discomfort well.
    When we arrived at the next stop and the driver got up and went to the back of the bus. Again, I assumed his motivations were mundane. I thought someone in a wheel chair was sitting toward the back and that the person needed assistance getting off the bus. The bus drivers are often very helpful to people in wheel chairs although usually anyone in a wheel chair sits up front. But soon I realized we had been paused at the same stop for a very long time. This is when I started to get really curious. I looked up from my book and surveyed the scene. The old man and young man from earlier were outside, standing right in front of the bus. My view was partially obscured, but from what I saw the young man moved in an aggressive manner toward the older man, as if he was going to smack or push the older man. This is when I really started paying attention. What sort of person bullies an old man in a wheel chair? The young man has taken his tough, angry youth persona too far. A middle aged man with blondish hair gets up from his seat on the bus and rushes outside. From what I can gather, he was trying to diffuse the tension between the angry duo. He comes back inside and the old man and young man wander off toward the city. As the young man departs he says “Fuck the cops!” which is funny because there aren’t any cops around. Although I did wonder if the blondish man was an off duty cop and the comment was directed at him.
    The bus driver came back to the front of the bus but instead of driving off, we remained immobile for even longer. From a distance, I saw the guy in the motorized scooter putter back toward the bus. He parks his scooter right next to the bus and stands up. He stands right outside the bus in front of the open door and says to the driver “You should have helped me! That man was bothering me and you should have helped me!” He was not just stating it as a simple fact, he was angrily yelling. The bus driver looks weary. He is tired of the daily drudgery of dealing with disgruntled passengers, drunken passengers and apathetic passengers with no where else to go. The bus driver’s body language coveys a sense that he is almost amused, like maybe he is already imagining retelling the story of the angry bus rider to his wife at dinner time. His wife will put her hand on his and say “oh, honey, they really do not pay you enough to deal with all these crazy people.” He’ll smile and feel glad to have someone who understands him.
    Without much conviction, the bus driver shuts the door in the old mans face. This infuriates the old man. He starts pounding on the glass and trying to pry the door open. He yells and hollers more angry words at the bus driver. he says “if you don’t open this up, I’ll report you. I will report you!“ He screeches at the bus driver The bus driver sighed and meekly smiled “Fine,” He said, “report me then.” The old man, who had appeared docile while sitting on the bus now resembled an angry animal banging frantically against his glass enclosure. At this point, I am definitely not reading my book anymore which contained way less drama then my actual bus ride. I am feeling very uncomfortable because I really do hate confrontation. The man yelled “Let me in!” The bus driver sighed and with a lazy push of the button he opens the doors. As the doors open, the bus driver got up and walked to the back of the bus. The old man stumbled on the bus and without the bus driver near at hand to directed his anger toward, he instead turned his furious eyes toward us, the passengers.
    “You should have helped me!” he yelled, spit flying from between his lips and landing on the cheeks of the people sitting in the first row. “That man was bullying me, and you all just sat there!” This is when I started piecing together what happened earlier. While I was distracted, the young man had been bothering and bulling the older man on the bus. The incident outside was just the climax of the dispute. I felt simultaneously sympathetic and annoyed with the old man. He had a point. When we as humans see someone in a weak position being trampled upon, we should help. But he sounded so belligerent and malicious and downright scary as he yelled at us, it was hard to have the proper compassion for him. Also, he assumed it was apathy that prevented anyone coming to his defense when it could just as easily be fear that stopped people. No one wanted the mean young man to start harassing them.
    The old man continued yelling “All of you, all of you are horrible, despicable people. You should have helped me!” An old woman sitting a couple of rows ahead of me on the opposite side had enough of this old man. She must have been in her late seventies or in her eighties. Throughout her life she has seen plenty of angry men and does not intend to deal with them any more. She yelled “Ahhhh, pssshhh.” and gestured her hands toward the front of the bus as if she was pushing an invisible person away from her. The sound she made is an odd one but I think it was suppose to convey a sentiment of “Just leave!” This only serves to further infuriate the man. He yells “You are all lame. You should have helped me. But no one cares.” Some one else whispers under his breath “Welcome to Seattle.”
    The old man looked at his newest nemesis who is the “ahh,pssh’ lady and said “You! You are a jerk!” Then the lady sitting next to me, who is a baby boomer that definitely was a hippie in her youth said “HAHAHAHA! NO sir, you are the jerk!” More yelling ensues and he calls us all lame, shameful and horrible people. For someone so angry he really did keep his language tame. There was no swearing at all. Finally, the old man was too frustrated and sad to deal with us any longer, so he storms off the bus.
    After he is off the bus and out of earshot, a man in the front of the bus with a broken arm said sarcastically “Well, don’t I feel bad.” The middle aged guy who broke up the fight earlier and may or may not be an undercover cop said “You should feel awful. That man was being bullied and you all just sat there. Can’t you see he is in a wheel chair?” This is when I decided he probably wasn’t a cop. He had this injured expression on his face, as if he just found out Santa Clause is not real. But really it was the expression of disappointment at his fellow personkind. If he was an undercover cop, I don’t think it would be so shocking and disappointing to encounter a situation like this.
    Another person on the bus said “Well he started it!” And other people on the bus murmured their agreement. The middle aged guy said “No, no he didn’t.” and he shuffled off the bus. Many people on the bus had expressions of both guilt and indignation.
    From the distance I heard the wail of a siren. An ambulance swung past us and parked right in front of the bus. The lady next to me said “It is about time!” as if she knew exactly why an ambulance was here. So I asked her what the heck was going on. Apparently, someone in the back of the bus had a seizure. That is why the man from earlier rushed to the front of the bus and also why we had been stopped for so long. I don’t know if the seizure was okay or not, but I think he was. When I got downtown to my destination, I sighed with relief. It was a whirlwind of a bus misadventure.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Socks... Where Are You?

Here are three funny signs I have seen recently.  All of them were at the same marina.

    What...! no emus? What sort of world do we live in when no emus are allowed? My guess is that this sign was posted after someone brought their pet emu to their boat. The emu got loose and bounded around the docks, causing havoc while squawking loudly and obnoxiously. When the harbor master confronted the emu owner, they protested saying that pets were indeed allowed at the docks. So the harbor master decided he needed to be more specific. While cats and dogs are acceptable pets to bring to the marina, emus are not okay. The indignant emu owner decided he would moor his boat elsewhere and left in a huff.

    Socks... where are you? I think that someone lost their pet cat (because cats are allowed) Socks and made a sign in hopes of finding their missing feline. Either they are overly optimistic about their cats ability to understand written English and use the phone or maybe Socks is a well known cat on the docks. Every boat owner on the dock is accustomed to seeing little socks prance around. They probably all feed him pieces of meet when they are BBQing aboard or pieces of fish after arriving home from a fishing expedition.
   Or, my other guess is Socks and Cooper are both humans who are best friends. Together, they fix up boats because they are both experts and the mechanics of boats. They are also in an informal and peace-loving motorcycle gang (Socks and Cooper sound like motorcycle gang names to me.) Socks, the dreamer of the duo went wondering off, perhaps following a lake bird as it waddled down the dock. Cooper said, 'Socks, pass me the wrench, will ya?" But nobody responded. Socks was gone, again! So Cooper, who could not get hold of Socks via his cell phone, made a sign in hopes of recovering his wandering friend.

    Puns are the lowest form of humor... or are they? I don't think so because they consistently crack me up, as did this one. "We're Otter Here!" is the name of the boat, but they have it written on their dock box too. The use of puns are very popular in naming ones boat. But usually they are uncreative puns. It is common to use the word "knot" as "not" as in "Knot Enough" or "Knot on Shore." Another common pun is using "Sea" in a word that start "Se" as in "SeaDuction" or "SeaRenity." I am a fan of the name "We're Otter Here!" because not only is it quite enthusiastic, but otters are always pleasant creatures to be reminded of.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cougar Mountain and a Historical Dueler

  I went on a hike a couple of weeks ago with friends. We went to Cougar Mountain. I saw zero cougars, thankfully! I can just imagine a big version of my cats being quite a vicious threat.

    Yesterday I was listening to an episode of the podcast "Stuff You Should Know" about dueling. It is an interesting subject matter because it seems so bizarre that something like dueling was ever socially acceptable. I can't imagine getting in a tiff with someone and that leading to weapons pointed at each other. But as the podcast mentioned, women rarely dueled and when they did it was more of a amusing spectacle than a serious confrontation. Except for one serious dueling woman named Julie d'Aubigny or La Maupin. She was only mentioned briefly in the podcast, but I wanted to learn more about her. Women from history who go against the gender role expectations are always interesting to me.
    La Maupin was a French woman born in 1670 to a wealthy family.  When she was twenty she became an opera singer. It is my projection that her fiery and dramatic personality did lend well to the opera where she needed to emote the characters intense feelings through song. But her flair for drama also led to fragile relationships with her fellow performers. Some of her fellow performers she did not get along with and disputes erupted between them. With other performers she fell madly in love with. Despite being married, she fell in love with two women, Fanchon Moreau and Marie Le Rochois.
    La Maupin was not restricted to the constraining expectations put on women and also was a professional duelist. Her dueling skills were learned from either her father or from an ex-lover. Many an aristocrat was challenged to a duel by La Maupin.  While dueling, she dressed like a man for ease of movement but people were all very aware that she was a woman.
    She had an affair with an assistant dueling master named Serannes. Together they started a show where they sang and fought duels. Eventually La Maupin grew bored of her dueling lover and instead fell in love with someone else, a young lady. The young lady's parents were not happy about the affair. They sent their daughter a way to the convent, as parents would commonly do in the olden days when their daughters did behavior may cause hints of scandal. But La Maupin was not easily persuaded to back off. She joined the convent herself  and devised a clever and odd escape plan for herself and her lover. La Maupin dug up the corpse of a recently deceased nun. She put the nun in her lovers bed and set it to fire. Then they ran off together, away from the restrictive confines of the convent.  Everyone would assume that the burnt body was that of the young woman's. This way, authority figures could no longer challenger their relationship and no one would be on the search for the missing young woman. But their relationship only lasted three months before the young woman returned to her family. La Maupin lived quite an adventuress life and it sounds like she was a rabble-rouser with an independent streak. I wonder what she would be like if she was born in modern days.

*( I found info about La Maupin from How Stuff Works and Wikipedia.) 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Paddling Across the Water and Enjoying it from the Shore

    A couple of weekends ago I went kayaking for the first time since I was in high school. My first kayaking experience was with a one day class that was offered as extended education through the local college. At one point, I got my kayak stuck in mud and tangled weeds. Almost nobody noticed, including the teacher. Everyone went paddling off except for one old woman. She stopped her own paddling and waited patiently while I tried to free myself. Sometimes she would offer me gentle encouragement. Eventually I freed myself from the weeds and we went paddling after everyone else. It was very sweet of the old woman. I wonder what she is up to now. Probably by now she is a kayaking expert herself and spends her time exploring the water and maybe sometimes stopping her paddling to save stranded sea animals. 
   My most current kayaking adventure was my second time kayaking.  This kayaking trip was far more successful, as I did not get stuck. I saw baby ducklings and turtles enjoying the sun while resting on a log. It was a lot of fun and I definitely want to go again. I like water adventures. Kayaking also offers a whole new dimension to the city I live in because there is so much water in Seattle. I didn't bring my camera because knowing my clumsy ways I thought there was a real chance that I might topple into the water. But I maintained the grace needed to not fall in! Next time I kayak I might brave bringing my camera.  Here are some non-related water pictures of the beach in Edmonds.