Friday, December 31, 2010

Short and Random

I'm not exactly sure when, but Mom found a Statistics page for how many people visit a given blog. For reasons unknown to me I started paying attention to the Stats tab out of curiosity. What I find sort of odd, is that the more often I write, the less people look at the blog. Perhaps I'm frightening people. Sorry about that. It's not really the time of year to write about scary stuff. October is really the month for that, but it's been a weird last 4 months of the year, and I got horribly distracted.

..... perhaps for the next few months I shall write nothing and see what happens? By writing nothing perhaps I shall draw in more people. Everything gets drawn in backwards for me. The minute I start wondering if I should stop writing on this blog, I get a storm of interest. Weird.

Whatever you all decide to do out there I'm wishing you all a Happy New Year!

Here. I'll leave you with this.

This is Mr Blue Bear. For whatever reason he was doing yoga positions on the floor of the laundry room. Later I began to suspect that he was in actuality begging for leniency, due to the fact that Mom was going to toss him into the washing machine. She tossed him in anyway, and then she strung him up outside by the ears with a pair of clothes pins to dry. See full story here.

Note to Self: Do not get so dirty that Mom throws you into the washing machine.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Locked Doors

These last few months have been a veritable roller coaster. Or maybe that should be several roller coasters and so far, none of them have been terribly enjoyable. We've had two deaths in the family. One we were all expecting, and the other was a shock. A total frying pan to the side of the head. Another change has to do with a promotion at work, which erupted rather suddenly. Generally speaking, I'm fairly good at riding these things out; duck the jaw smashers that you can, and roll with the sneaky ass punches that you never see coming. I've become quite good at gathering my feet beneath me after a particularly bad blow, although standing without weaving isn't always possible. Lately, weaving and wobbling has become a norm. Life has more resembled a long line of frying pan wielding psychopaths, dealing mind numbing blows, than one bordered by flowers, singing birds and vast green fields. I suspect everyone gets to this area in their life where everything experienced it uncomfortably inhabited by dark shadows and a distinct lack of clarity.

I find myself wobbling in the doorway of a new job. A full time job. While I should be happy about this, it comes with several price tags. One of which is the job I will soon be inhabiting, is because a good friend is leaving the position and moving on. Which is great for her, and I really do wish her all the best (and yes, I will come loom ... visit you) I'm not sure what I see beyond the doorway is something I can handle. There is also the uncomfortable feeling that if I step through... actually I should say WHEN I step inside the doorway, the door will slam shut and lock. No going back, even though I was told that if I really hate it, I could go back. Seriously though, there IS no going back. Going back to your first home? Visiting the old neighborhood? Running into old friends and enemies? Not fun. Not for me at least. Too many memories good and bad. The bad make me want to curl up in a ball and roll myself into a dusty corner until I forget why I'm there. Good memories that make me want to do the same thing because those days are gone.

I guess what this really comes down to is fear. A fear of being trapped in a job I'm not sure I'll be good at. Fear that I'll screw up badly when everyone is confident that I'll do a great job. Fear that I'll become complacent and will settle for a job that I'm comfortable with, but will never grow as a person in. Fear that I will lose the courage to follow my dreams, because I have doubts that the dream is something I want and more a need for escape. Fear that when I'm in my last days that I'll look back at the here and now, and regret the decisions I made in the moment. Fear of things left undone. And lastly a fear that the reason all of this is weighing so heavily on me, is the fear that I am not who I think I am. I know we all have these fears, but sometimes they are much more real and threatening. The loss of the familiar, the loss of the people that keep your keel even; the self doubt and all the 'what ifs' and 'I can't's"add such vibrant colored outlines to the shadows we create for ourselves.

There is a children's book, "The Little Engine That Could" attributed to Watty Piper, but is actually older in origin. When I was a kid, I really didn't understand all the aspects of this book, because I was a kid. To me the book was cool because the underdog won, and I was always the underdog. At that age I hadn't experienced enough to fully understand that self-confidence is sometimes all you need in order to get an insurmountable task done. Because many of these mountains are actually mole hills, but appear larger due to two words. "I Can't". It wasn't until years later, when I had occasion to meet someone I now consider an extremely good friend (he may think differently. He's an interesting character.), who basically would calmly listen to me blither on for hours (possibly days) about why I couldn't do something. Then he would quietly (not always) suggest that perhaps I was so wrapped up with my excuses that I hadn't actually considered the -fact- that I was indeed capable and able in whatever it was I was back peddling on. I just had placed a convenient life roadblock in my own way out of habit. It's called,"I can't." The instant you think that, you really can't. Because your focus has shifted from the fear of something new, to all the ways you can avoid dealing with that fear. You've just hobbled yourself, and most people never step out of their hobbles under their own power. "I can't" enables them to remain as they are. Whatever that static position might be. Until of course they're pitched into something head first by other people. Then its panic attack time, or they find that they actually can do it. I will always be grateful to him for making me see things for what they were.

The words, "I can." come with their own set of responsibilities. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Sometimes it's best to let things go, for the good of yourself and for the good of those around you. In my case, it's more that I need to rediscover my ability to enable those words for myself. Those around me will survive without me. I've been in a comfortable place with my current position for so long, that I almost stopped where I was. Almost, because I was still going to school to complete an AA/AS and ultimately move on with my goals, but on a whole... I was slowing down. Immersing myself in my job, in the people, in my friends... rooting myself. Which I will not allow completely, because I'm not done with what I want to do, and unfortunately that means I can't set down roots yet. A lot of my confusion and 'I can't' comes from uprooting myself. Its necessary if I want to keep going, but I can't say I like it. Leaving familiar territory is definitely not comfortable for me. I don't deal with change well. When I was little, Mom would rearrange the living room, and I'd pitch a total fit of hysteria. As an adult, I still get emotionally distraught, but I keep the majority of it to myself. Hopefully.

So, although I'm on something of an emotional tilt, and am having to relearn how to deal with self-doubt and 'I can't' I'm going to step through the door which I fear will lock behind me. But that's alright, because I can always fashion a key, break a window, or just kick the door down. It'll still be scary at first. I'll be going in wobbling, but armed with the memories of a little locomotive, and a good friend whose spirit still pokes me in the forehead when I waver over an issue saying,

"Try. All you can do is fail, and that's not so bad."


"Unless you're a bomb disposal expert. Then it will be bad."

And since it's Christmas... Here's "White Wine in the Sun" by Tim Minchin. Yes, I am on a total Tim Minchin kick. You will all have to deal. Hope you all have the Happiest of Holidays.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Just to Brighten Your Day...

Mom found Tim Minchin on YouTube one night and made me sit down and watch one of his videos, called "Inflatable You." If you're easily offended, I suggest you don't watch the video, or any of Tim's other performances. Speaking for myself though, if I manage to find him doing a concert nearby I will definitely be going.

I've never seen anyone else like him. With perhaps the exception of Victor Borga in some ways, but very much updated. Anyway, hope you got a laugh. :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Why You Should Put a Algae Sinking Tablet in AFTER Dark...

There was the sale at the pet store today, and it was seriously busy. Apparently tropical fish were not the only item on a sale. Dog food was a hot item, and it was sort of difficult to get to the fish department. However, I was able to get myself some more fish. Last Wednesday I had decided on getting 4 more fish; 3 platy for the Hex tank, and one lone Honey Gourami to go in with the Tetra Posse and the Pepper Twins.

Everyone survived the road home and no one appeared to be ill or acting off. Although I did worry about the Honey Gourami, because she (I think it's a she) had pressed herself into a corner of the bag and was just laying there. The worry was unnecessary. She appears to be fine, and she's so damned CUTE. Honeys are supposed to be shy, but she came right out of he hiding spot after about 5 minutes and started feeling up a very confused boss Black Phantom Tetra with her little feelers. I laughed until I cried. The Tetras are totally boggled by their new tank mate, because a.) She keeps touching them and b.) She does not get intimidated when they rush her. She just turns slightly and glares as them until they go away. She's got no qualms about satisfying her curiosity. If it's something new to her, it must be felt up. Watching her set up observation of the Peppers playing in the air bubbles was another crack up. All she needed was binoculars.

I'm beginning to grow quite attached to fish with labyrinth systems. They're like having tiny aquatic dogs. Little Blue is the same way. Curious about everything, and not easily intimidated.

The Platy are tough little bastards and can probably weather just about anything within reason. Don't get me wrong; I like the Platy or I wouldn't keep getting them, but they can be mean little cusses, especially when figuring out a pecking order. Porky now has five girls, but he only seems to be interested in the Red Tuxedos... which makes me scratch my head a bit. He's not Tuxedo... and he's not a Sunburst either (he's a Sunset Wagtail), so I figured he'd like the other colors too, but he's definitely got a preference. He loves the Red Tux Platy; is indifferent to the Sunbursts, and still absolutely despises Wednesday the Red Wag Platy. She's small though, so maybe he sees her as food competition for his more mature girls. Honestly I have no idea. Personally I think Wednesday is lovely with her dark red body, black fines and yellow eyes. She may get some leeway with so many other ladies in the tank though. We shall see where everyone is in the pecking order once it settles down. I may have to take one back... it appears a little crowded in there.

Remember how I said it was impossible to get pictures of the Platy because they never hold still? Well, I got to thinking about how I've managed to take some really good pictures of other things that never hold still, such as squirrels, birds, and extremely frightened deer. I've found that putting out some food will do wonders for getting them to hold relatively still, so I decided to see what would happen if I dropped a sinking algae tablet in for the Corys while the light was still on. I know how much Platy like those things.... So, THIS is what happens when you put a sinking tablet into a tank full of fish that all love algae. Everyone dives for the algae tab at once. It's that little green rock there in the corner. Porky of course has his mouth ON the food. Right above him are the Red Tuxedos, and one Speckled Sunburst, and a plain Sunburst above her. Golden-eye the Julii Cory has actually be shoved aside by the Platy, and the little Bronze doesn't even TRY to get into the crush. Up on the right is Wednesday. Not her best photo, but that's the best I can do.

This also shows why feeding an algae tab with the lights on means that the Corys get no food. Later on tonight I will drop a whole algae tab in the Hex tank for the Corys, and the Platy will finish off whatever it left in the morning. In the 6 Gallon, the Peppers get half a tab, because there are just the two, and they're so laid back that they let the Tetras chase them away from the tab even though the Tetras don't eat it. They try, but they lack the mouth do any damage to it. The Honey might be able to dig into it though, although I'm not sure she'll be active when the lights are off. I know Little Blue sleeps when I turn off the lights and is mighty cranky about being woken up. Full Betta display goes into action and he rushes the front of the tank. Ruffles quite a bit, then grumps back to his sleeping spot.

So, that's my fish update for today. Maybe I'll do a post about water changes next... yes, won't that be exciting! In all honesty, probably not. Anywho, I'm off to watch some Anime, which will be followed closely be sleeping. I hope.

The Sandman and I have not been on good terms lately.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

December Crossroads

The last 6 months have brought about some changes. On the blog, most notably, I've become rather obsessed with aquariums. Honestly, I had no idea I'd like keeping fish this much. Instead of just having one small fish tank, which is all I originally wanted, I now have three tanks, that all combined house a total of 16 fish. ... And given that I'm somewhat insane when fish are involved, I'm going to take advantage of the local pet store's fish sale this weekend and acquire 3 more Platy for the Hex Tank, and one small Gourami for the 6 gallon tank. The Gourami is a maybe keeper. It may not work out, and I may have to take it back. We shall see how things go.

The sale was revealed to me when I went into the pet store to get the Hex Tank water tested. I've got test stuff at home, but I always like to get a second opinion. There is always the possibility that I'm doing the tests wrong. They were fairly busy when I went in, so I cruised the tanks, and asked about Catfish for the Hex Tank. I have exactly two Corydoras Plateus in the 6 gal tank, because all the others died, or became seriously ill on the way home. Given my track record, I was fully prepared for these to kick off the moment I got on the road. However, they remained active and perky even after being housed in their new home. Granted it's only day two, but I am hopeful they won't end up going to the great toilet bowl in the sky. (actually I'm sort of weird in that I bury mine outside. It seemed undignified to toss them into the toilet) Anyway, the above Cats are (from left to right), a Corydoras Julii (a Julii for short), a Corydoras Aeneus (a Bronze Cory) and another Julii, except this one has gold eyes. I could be wrong but the first Julii to the left could be a Leopard Cory... it's tricky trying to tell. Patterning can vary, but you can tell by looking at their snouts. Golden-Eye has a very abruptly down turning snout, while Dark-Eye seems to have a slightly longer variation. There's also the possibility that they're a mixed result. Personally, I could care less. I just want to enjoy watching them trundle around the bottom of the Hex Tank and lead a relatively good life. That's my enjoyment. Watching the fish be ... happy, for lack of a better word.

Here's the little Julii. Some Corys have an iridescent quality to their general pattern. You can see it here on the Julii right under it's eye. The camera doesn't really do it justice. I've seen the same sheen on Hummingbirds, but not so much on fish. Feel free to correct me, if you take a look and think it's a Leopard Cory. They really are difficult to tell apart because of the black and white patterning. The neat thing about the Julii Cory is that they are active during the day. Most Cory like to nap during the day, and become much more active at night. Not so with these guys. They know it's nighttime and will go find a place to sleep until morning. If you leave their light on they'll still find a spot to sack out.

The Platy are the worst fish to try and photograph for two reasons. Either they think you're going to feed them the minute you walk up to their tank, or they see the camera, and flee for safety. The minute you move back, they come racing out,"WAIT! See? We're still here! And we're still hungry!.... but we don't like the camera." This all culminates in not being able to get a picture of them. Well... you get red blurs and that's it. The Bronze Cory is nearly as bad, but only because he NEVER STOPS MOVING. I only got this shot because I took about a billion pictures and managed to do the impossible. I got him when he paused, which generally only lasts a 1/4 of a second. Then he's off again to explore the rest of the tank. Again.

Besides the aquariums, and their inhabitants, I've had other things happen. Some I won't go into, because ... I have trouble sharing. The fact that this blog is still going at all is something of a small miracle. I hate writing about myself. Hate trying to keep diaries... Journals. I've got tons of empty journals that people give me, and I never do anything with them, because it seems pointless to me to write about my daily activities. Boring. Sooooo, boring. And given that this blog has been going for... 3 years(?) and I rarely have comments, I guess it IS boring. Despite that, I find myself back here looking at something of a crossroads. Not an unexpected crossroads, but difficult in choice and possible results. A multiple crossroad actually, with pathways stretched in several directions, and I'm unsure of which way to go. Usually when I reach one of these points in my life, I know exactly which way to go. None feel right this time. So, I'm standing there looking at the choices before me, trying to make a decision of which feels least wrong. And every once in a while, I look at paths that haven't quite reached mine.

College for one, seems close yet inaccessible. Roadblocks made of money, bad economy, and full rosters tend to get in the way. I really detest money. It really IS the root of all evil. Unfortunately, I need it, in order to go the rest of the way through college. The college I want to attend is rather far afield, but I did a lot of research and I like the programs they run for Languages. Getting there... that's going to be a total pain in the ass. It's going to involve a job I'm not entirely sure I want. Yet. I'll only be doing that for a year, but it makes me feel uncomfortable that I'm only there for a year, and then leave the position. Poof. I guess my sense of loyalty is unhappy with decisions that need to be made. ugh...

On that cheery note, I'm going to wander off into Anime land, and try to ignore the discomforting feeling of having partially wedged open opportunities before me, which I'm going to have to smash down before I get to a goal far beyond them.

And for no particular reason...
a Pumpkin.

Somehow or another, I managed to totally miss putting up a Halloween post. Actually it's not too surprising. I've had a lot on my mind.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Red... and Durarara

Dad and I went to see the movie "Red" on Monday. Neither of us had been to the movies in sometime given Hollywood's ability to produce crappy movies at an astounding rate. Hollywood? Listen up! There is no such thing anymore as a 'sure thing', so get some balls and try something new, because the stuff you've been producing lately doesn't interest me in the slightest. Ehem. That said I'll have to retract slightly, because there were exactly three movies I did like, and actually went back to see twice. I never do this. One was Iron Man 2. Whatever Marvel is doing, they're doing it right. At least with Iron Man movies. The second, was the A-Team, a remake of a TV series from the 80s, which I watched religiously as a kid. Initially I was somewhat taken aback, because I was positive that they were going to totally screw with an old favorite, but I was thrilled to find that they had not only stuck with the character profiles, they'd actually paid attention to detail. I was so happy; I went and saw it a second time.

The third movie, is "Red", which is based on a comic book (you'd be shocked at how many successful movies have been based on comics) currently owned by DC Comics. I think originally it was put out by Homage, but I could be wrong on that. Anyway... Red was wonderful. Let me rephrase. If you like ex-spy movies (think aging Jason Bourne) then this is right up your ally. This was well thought out, well acted, and the filming and FX were just right. Not too many over the top scenes were you're so distracted by the unbelievability of the scene that you miss plot developments. I hate that. Pet peeve I guess. What really made me love this movie though was seeing a lot of old familiar faces. Old familiar faces that make me remember why Hollywood used to be so good. These people are actors. None of this,"I'm pretty to look at." or "Look at all my muscles!" No. This was pure honest acting that carried the film, expertly spliced with new talent who, while can be considered eye-candy, can also carry their roles with their acting skills. AND, it was good honest fun. So well written! Witty repertoire... oh, I do so miss the ease with which I used to be able to find movies like this. And action was definitely part of the recipe, so don't go moaning about how it wasn't there. This was a gem.

Another that was an unexpected find, was an Anime series called "Durarara". I'd seen this on CrunchyRoll, the pictures of it anyway, and finally decided to watch it a few months ago. The first couple of episodes did NOT impress me, but I liked the characters enough to keep watching. Why did I not like the first couple of episodes? Well, mostly because the storyline was all over the place. I had trouble figuring out why a lot of what I was watching was important. Eventually I reached episode 6 and chalked the wildly strobing story to a peculiar slice of life show. However, the deeper you get into this show, the more you realize that everything you see and hear is pertinent, because this show has an astounding amount of twists, turns and switchbacks. A veritable rabbit's warren of plots within plots, histories within histories and surprise turns that make this show damned near addictive. Some things are easy to see coming, some you never see coming, and other things you follow, but never quite catch onto because you haven't gotten all the information you need in order to see the whole picture. In a way this show IS a slice of life, but it is so very well done. I won't tell you exactly why it's a slice of life, because figuring out this show is part of the fun.

And it is funny. There where so many times I found myself laughing out loud, at the unexpected, at outright silliness, at stuff that was supposed to be funny. There were moments that made me gasp, that made me smile, that made me want to choke someone and that made cringe. This truly is one of the best Anime shows I've watched in a long time. They're out there, you just have to dig for them. I'm not one for the fluffy cutesy Anime, nor am I one that likes to sit through really tweaked stuff. I like well rounded stories, and this one is very well rounded it. Just be patient with it and pay attention. If you're unable to sit still for more than 10 minutes, this is NOT the show for you, so do not bother.

Of late the most hated phrase I hear is,"This is stupid." This is generally said by someone with limited attention span, and without the ability to coherently string together the nature of WHY they find 'it' stupid. I've found that "This is stupid." translates to, "I don't understand this, nor do I want to try." And it's immediate after trying something they're not comfortable with. If the person had tried several shows, or several chapters in a book, and then said,"This is stupid. Here's why..." Then I wouldn't be so annoyed. But the phrase,"This is stupid." in my book is the equivalent of a food fussy toddler not wanting to try new foods because NEW isn't in their safety zone. While I understand the toddler; adults .... you have no excuse. Teens have an excuse. Their brains are rewiring themselves, and being accepted is the most important thing on their agenda until they figure out that being confident in themselves, and LIKING themselves will make you a heck of a lot more popular than going with the flow. Unfortunately, most teens need to figure this out on their own, otherwise they never get it.

Adults? You should be past this point. If you've tried the carrots and don't like the carrots, then fine. At least you tried it. If you see the carrots and point at them in horror shrieking,"EWWWW!" without ever trying them... well. ... You're ... a sad piece of ... we won't go there.

... work is sometimes an interesting observation experiment. *sighs*

My other most hated phrase? "It's not MY job!" .... annoying.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Hex Tank

There is something very soothing about keeping fish for me. I had no idea I'd love it so much. Originally I wanted the small 3 gallon tank for the selfish reason of just wanting to watch fish swim back and forth. However, I have found that keeping the fish happy, makes me happy. I am assuming that it's like eating chocolate (I'm not a chocolate person. There is no need to gasp in horror. I get by.) for some people. The rotten little fish put a smile on my face more often than not, and it works even if the rest of my day has ridden the fast road to hell in a flaming picnic basket.

I started with a little three gallon Marineland Eclipse system that I got for Christmas several years back. Beginner fish keepers, please note that a 3 gallon tank is NOT the one you want to start with. This was something I found to my sorrow. Initially I wanted a small tank, because I thought it would be the easiest to work with. It was small, easy to clean, pick up, rearrange, etc. However, it also means it gets dirty damned fast, the temperature fluctuations will kill your fish, and keeping all the pH, Alkaline, Ammonia (not something you want unless you're doing a start up tank from scratch. Which means no borrowed tank water from an established aquarium.) and nitrates stable is pretty much impossible. Unless you're on it every damned day. Do yourself a favor and start with at the least, 6 gallon tank. Marineland all in one set ups are a dream. The filtration system is VERY good as long as it doesn't die like mine did. Actually from what I've read, what happened to mine was rare. The higher the amount of water you've got in your tank, the more stable the temperature will be, and you may not even need to get a heater for the tank. For example, the 6 gallon tank doesn't need a heater, but the 3 gallon does.

Anyway, 7 months after the initial set up of the 3 gallon tank finds me with 3 aquariums. The 3 gallon it still up and working, because of my little Betta, Little Blue. Some of you will recall that he was attacked by a supposedly peaceful fish, namely a Sunset Wagtail Platy who we all now refer to as... The Evil One. Again.. if you're going to go out and get buddies to put in with your Betta, make sure you know the quirks of the fish you're getting. Platys are very placid.. unless you get two males and no females. They get persnickety about territory and will get very aggressive. Which is why Little Blue was banished to the 3 gallon Curse Tank. He's hardy. he can take it. He IS in there, I swear. The low light level is because Betta's aren't really big fans of lots of light, so I gave him plenty of shade in which to hide. So much shade that he just drifts in with the landscape. Ah well. He does come rushing out when I walk past because he thinks he's getting food. Generally, I stop to say hi. Little Blue's fin recovery has been a long long involved process. He got fin rot, and I ended up having to nuke his tank. Which means I boiled his silk plant, replaced his gravel, took away his bridge decoration which he LOVES, cleaned his tank, and replaced all the water. The pump in the back got scrubbed as well.

Despite his attempted suicide while I was cleaning his tank (he jumped out of his bowl onto the blue towels... so I couldn't FREAKING SEE HIM!! He's fine though. Bettas have a respiratory organ in their heads called a labyrinth organ that allows them to breath air. As long as they don't dry out they can live for quite a while by gulping air. Don't take your Betta out of his bowl to watch him do that, and I'm saying this because someone who reads this is immediately going to want to try it. It's still not good for him. There are other fish that have this. Gouramis for one) he has been steadily improving. Granted he managed to do yet MORE damage to his fins, but it's healing much faster. The split in his tail healed over night, and his tail is growing out much much faster than before. No sign of fin rot so far. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping I got it all cleaned out. He'll get his bridge back when he's all done too! Incentive!

The 6 gallon is where I've got everybody else, and it's very crowded in there. They were all out in front when I went to take pictures, and they saw the camera, screamed and dove for cover. Ungrateful little wretches. I just cleaned their tank, gave them new water and fed them. You'd think they'd sit still and let me snap a few shots. Actually this should enlarge, and you might be able to see a few shifty smears that denote fish. I've probably got too many decorations in here for a 6 gallon tank too. The water is tinged yellow because of that big piece of drift wood there in the middle. It helps keep the pH out of the rafters. That green tube back there is the air pump hose connected to the air stone. An air stone is basically a diffuser for the air pumped into the tank. It allows the air to escape in small bubbles, rather than in one huge stream of air. For a beginners second attempt at an aquarium, I don't think I did half bad. Everyone is alive. I consider that a very good thing.

Now... Thursday I went down to the pet shop and got myself a 5 gallon Hex tank. Same brand name as the other two tanks. Marineland Eclipse system. Hex, stands for Hexagon, which means 6 sides, and it's just the right size for the top of my dresser. Actually I've got two dressers, but Little Blue is currently occupying the other one. This one you may notice doesn't have a lot of decorations in it, which is because the fish are going to need the space to swim.. and as I said before I think I've got too much in the other tank. In fact the stuff that's in here, is stuff I took out of the 6 gallon tank because it was so crowded in there. This tank will house Porky, my only Platy, once it runs for 24 hours. He's called Porky because he bloody well eats anything I put in the tank even if he's not equipped to freaking EAT it. This means he's got a little pot belly most of the time. Moron. Which is why I don't feed every day. Porky needs time to un-pork, or he's going to look like a Balloon Molly. Which is normal for the Molly, but not a Platy. Putting Porky in a different tank means I will have more control over what he puts in his mouth. I hope.

It will also allow me to get him some women. I mean girl Platys. Maybe Porky will run off some of his spare tire chasing the ladies. Given his eating addiction, I have suspicions that his obsessions may quickly shift gears to sex addict. Sad, but some things just have to have something to cling to. In this case, Porky needs a crutch. Hopefully within the week, I'll have Porky moved to the Hex tank, and gotten him some girlfriends. The tank is cycling more quickly because I used water from the 6 gallon to start it. This means beneficial bacteria is already present and embedding itself in the tank. It also means I can get fish more quickly than would normally be possible. So, in this tank there will be 4 Platys, 2 Corys, and I'm going to see about getting a Honey Gourami. ONE Honey Gourami, but that will be much further down the line after the Platy have established themselves. Maybe 3 weeks hence. I'm only getting one, because the tank is small, two Gourami will fight, and I'm not entirely sure how the Platy will react to the Gourami. If things go south, the Gourami will be going back to the pet shop... OR, I'll toss him in the 6 gallon with the Tetra Posse.

This is the plan. We shall see how this unfolds. I'll keep you posted. You can ask questions you know. I'll see if I can answer them, although I'm willing to bet the answer will be,"I don't know." a lot of the time. However I may be able to point you in the right direction.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Impatiently Waiting for One Piece.... leads to monologuing about Corydoras Paleatus

Soooo, here I am waiting for the masses that just slammed my beloved "One Piece" site to slowly slide back into the seething ocean of Kaizoku fans. I would be in there helping to slow the site down too if I were currently allowing myself to watch the most current episodes of "One Piece", but I am not. Promises were established with myself, that I would not watch current episodes until I managed to get myself accepted into a college. A college I really really want to go to. As of yet, there has been no luck, which is partially my own fault. Ok... mostly my fault. The first application got lost somewhere between here and the college, and it was such a pain in the butt to get all the paperwork together the first time that I haven't done it a second time. :P

Which means no new episodes of OP for me! However, this does not exclude episodes that have watched before... which means I was happily watching OP all the way through for a 7th time, when the new episode was posted and the site got slammed. I can't blame them. There is some really heavy stuff happening with Luffy, and I know this because I stumbled across some damned moron's post conversation in which he gave no warning about spoilers. *grrrrrr* Thus, I have some knowledge of what is taking place. *sighs* I wish I could highlight and delete portions of my memory. Mom can do that. It's impressive.

Instead of sitting on the site and waiting for eons to pass before my page comes up, I have begun staring at my fish again. Specifically, I'm staring at my newer 6 gallon tank that I got several weeks ago. It now houses 5 Black Phantom Tetras, 1 Serpae Tetra, 1 (insane) Red Phantom Tetra, 1 Sunset Wagtail Platy, and 2 Pepper Corys (aka the Pepper Twins, aka The Peppers). There is also of course Little Blue, who is housed in the (cursed) 3 gallon tank, and is still recovering his fins. Which is going well by the way. They're getting longer instead of shorter, but I had to remove most of his fake plant life, as it was plastic and could do further damage. Little Blue is not at ALL pleased with me. Every time he sees me he swims quickly to the front of the tank where he gives me the fishy eyeball of disapproval, which is infinitely worse than the proverbial 'hairy eyeball'.

I know what you aquarists out there are saying. "YOU HAVE 10 FISH IN A 6 GALLON TANK!?" pauses for breath,"ARE YOU NUTS! THEY'RE STARVING FOR OXYGEN!!"

Before you turn blue shouting at your computer screen, please note that they're in a Marineland Eclipse system with biowheel. They have a Whisper air pump in there, and I change out the water (25% to 30%) at least twice a week. More often if I think the water looks even slightly weird. Actually the water looks pretty weird anyway. The pH balance was off the charts, and only had luck at leveling it off by putting driftwood in, so the water is the color of weak tea. BUT the point is, I am compensating for the space crunch until I am able to afford a separate tank for the Tetras. My Sunset Wag is getting the 6 gallon to himself and three ladies of the same species. The Peppers will also be staying because I'm scared to death to move them, or do anything to screw with the tank. I can keep anything else alive except Pepper Corys. Awful, awful luck with Peppers. I'm terrified of getting other species of Corys because I'm afraid I'm going to kill them.

The Peppers are wonderful to watch! Very active, and they keep my tank clean. So, when I started losing them, I tried doing some research on how to get them to stop dropping dead. Apparently I'm an anomaly. Everyone else has theirs for YEARS. Mine are lucky if they last a week. Because everyone has Corys that last for years, apparently keeping them alive hasn't been an issue... which means when you search for them on the net to find out how to keep them alive you get,"Very hardy fish. No extra care necessary." and "Are fine in any tank." and "Great for first time fish keepers." .... yeah... No one took me into account.

SO, here is my little information area for those of you who are having trouble keeping Peppered Corys alive. First off, the scientific name (not that this is necessary for keeping a fish alive) is "Corydoras paleatus". They are extremely peaceful in a community tank, but that doesn't mean other species in the tank will keep that in mind. As some of you will recall, I had a demon possessed Sunset Wagtail Platy that tore up every other fish in the tank. He tore a hunk out of my poor little Pepper, ate most of the tail off Little Blue, and ripped all of the head scales off his fellow Sunset Wag, who is now currently alone because I took the evil one back to the pet store. Where I have been assured that the Gourami have shown him the error of his ways. A lesson to me and everyone. Platys can be vicious, (actually, given the right circumstances any fish can be vicious... although I have a hard time believing that of a Cory) and are NOT always a perfect community tank fish. Most of the sites I visited said,"Platys and Corys make good tank mates!" Keep in mind that what they DON'T say is that if you are going to get Platys, make sure you've got a male for every 3 females. NOT two males and NO females. It makes demon possession possible. You have been warned.

Now, back to the subject at hand. Peppered Corys. ... where was I... Ah yes. No really good information sites. At least not one that I saw. In my case, I wanted to know why I'd find the Peppers playing dead at the top of the tank. They DID look dead, hanging sideways like that, and the others would just be ill by the time I got home. Finally I just started stringing bits and pieces of information together and formed a rough hypothesis. Please understand here, I am a NOVICE at keeping fish and may give incorrect information. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS double check ANY source of information. Even if the person is said to be an expert! The people at the pet shop in the Aquarium department DO NOT KNOW EVERYTHING! Do your own research!

1.) Almost every site when presented with the floating problem, or tilting problem, immediately said,"Swim Bladder problem!" Uh, your Cory does not HAVE A FREAKING SWIM BLADDER. You may have observed your Cory swim lightening fast to the top, and then back down leaving a bubble in their wake?? Yes? I call the little bubble, the "down bubble." What is actually taking place is the Cory is getting a gulp of air, swallowing it, and running it rapidly through its intestinal tract. Air is captured in the Cory's stomach and perhaps pockets in the intestines that allows it to stay upright, rise, fall, and swim with efficiency. What air it doesn't need is passed out the anal vent as it swims back down. Thus, the 'down bubble'.

2.) If your Cory is spending a lot of time at the top of the tank there could be two reasons. At least two reasons that I've confirmed with mine. These reasons do not include injury or illness due to disease.
**The first being that your tank may not have enough oxygenated water for the Cory to breath comfortably. He's up there hanging/resting in water that has a higher oxygen content. This happens especially with an overloaded tank (like mine. 10 freshwater fish in a 6 gallon tank is not big enough. And don't go pointing at the pet shop aquariums which are loaded with fish. They sell fish every day. They never have a constant number in those tanks. The good pet shops also do daily water changes on those, and work hard to maintain a good balance of beneficial bacteria to combat ammonia loving nastiness.) and can be alleviated in part (until you get another larger tank) with an air pump. Since I got the air pump, and run it for several hours before bedtime, I have not had the 'dead hanging Cory' syndrome.
**The Second reason has to do with diet. Corys eat everything and anything. That means they like a variety in diet, so if you're just letting your Cory eat Tetra flakes, you can expect a constipated Cory. Yes, even fish can get constipated. If a Cory is constipated, he can't pass air effectively through his intestinal tract, which will cause him to be unable to maintain stability. Ie, if you see your Cory floating on the surface, floating in general, tilting to one side, racing up to get a gulp of air and then sputter out on his way back down with NO 'down bubble', then you've got a Cory with intestinal distress. Solution? Cook some peas, shell a pea, smash both sides of what you find inside, and deposit pea in the tank. If your Cory had been constipated for too long, he will have no desire to eat... and then you're sort of out of luck. The best course of action is preventative feeding. Feed a cooked, shelled and smashed pea a least once a week. Make sure your Cory has access to sinking Algae tabs, and feed live food every once in a while if possible. Bloodworms will work fine frozen. Tetra flakes are fine too... just as long as it's not the only thing they're eating.

3.) Sometimes the Cory you get is just sick to begin with, and there is nothing you can do to fix it. Many of the pet shops order from places that breed these little guys in the thousands, and they're poorly bred. Think puppy mills. Lots of fish with genetic issues being bred back to other fish with genetic issues. This makes for a much more fragile Cory than expected. Currently I have two Corys that managed to survive. One is always active, always on the food hunt and hasn't mysteriously died yet. So pessimistic am I. Pepper 2, is not as active, was constipated when I got him, and although he has improved, I will not be surprised if I find him doing the 'hanging dead Cory' and it being a case of fact, rather than resting. All the Corys that have died have had a dark coloration rather than light, and I have to wonder if that is proverbial signal flare that, in my area at least, it is probably not genetically healthy. I am not saying that is a blanket truth, because I'm sure it's not. Corys in your area may be just find with any coloration given.

4.) Now.. this last part is pure speculation on my part. I have brought home 5 Peppered Corys since I started my first (cursed) 3 Gallon aquarium back in June. The first was just fine for 13 days, and for totally unknown reasons died. This may have been due to an ammonia spike, because at the time, I was an ignorant moron where fish keeping was concerned, BECAUSE I HADN'T DONE ENOUGH RESEARCH. Later, when I got the 6 gallon tank, and cycled it, I got 1 Black Phantom Tetra, 1 Serpae Tetra, and 2 Peppered Corys. All fish concerned were just fine at the pet shop, AND in the car outside the pet shop. However, by the time I got home, one of the Peppers was nowhere near as active as his buddy. Four days later I took him back, still alive but unwell, and got 4 Black Phantom Tetras and 2 more Peppered Corys. Both Corys were active at the store, and in the car outside the store... but when we got home, one was barely moving and died later that week. The other was the one that is doing better, but it wouldn't surprise me if he kicked off. Now... The only thing I can think of that is different between the Tetras and the Corys is that Tetras have an air bladder and the Cory does not. Why is this significant? Because I live at 3,000+ feet, and the pet store is slightly below 1,000 ft in elevation. Keep in mind that I'm speculating wildly here. I think part of my problem is that the Corys have a much more difficult time dealing with a rapid change in elevation, while the Tetras can adjust more readily with an air bladder. Same with the Platys. The Peppers act sick because they take longer to acclimate to an elevation change that they'd never encounter in normal conditions. Even the active Cory was sick for about 4 days before snapping out of it. The other... well we'll see if he gets better or not.

Any Cory is get going to be something of a clown. The one I have that isn't doing as well as he could be, likes to stick himself in the weirdest places, and I'll turn on the aquarium light and panic because he looks like he's smashed underneath the driftwood, when in fact he's fine. They don't seem to have the same spacial reality that most fish have, which means they will swim upside down sometimes, especially when they go to get a swallow of air. But this should be very brief, and should not last for more than a few seconds. Keeping Corys healthy and happy is actually a lot more work than some would have you believe. But then I'm willing to bet that not a lot of people have the same circumstances I do. Anywho, hope this helps someone somewhere.

Now... I'm going to go see if my One Piece site is back to working. Perhaps it crashed. I rarely see that site get so sluggish. I guess I will also work on getting another application together for the college I was after. Then... I'll have to figure out how to pay for it. :P

... what a pain.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Grover and Ernie

Today was a stay home day. No real place to go, at least not a trip that had to happen today. So, while sitting on my duff all day, I watched Torchwood and trawled the Internet for off the wall news reports. Not fake news or anything, just the weird and usual stuff, which is how I came across the spoof Sesame Street did of the Old Spice commercial. I laughed like mad. I haven't watched Sesame Street in years, because it went from being engaging to stupid. They redeemed themselves a bit with this skit. Grover was always one of my favorites, and the sad thing is no one remembers him. In the event that you don't remember or never knew, Grover was the skinny blue monster with the big pink nose who had a low sometimes squeaky voice. His doom was in introducing his nephew to everyone. I'm sure you all know him. His name is Elmo. Everyone loves Elmo. To me he's a bright red eyesore with an atrocious voice that firmly planted Grover's headstone. Talented little bugger.

Here is the video I was laughing at. It helps if you watch the original before watching this, but this is still wildly funny. At least to me. I'm sure many of you will be sitting there staring, wondering why or how I could think it funny.

After watching it a few times, I started thinking about Jim Henson. My family was still camped out in a motor home in the driveway of our earthquake damaged house when they aired the news of Henson's death. I cried on and off all day. Although I'd never met him, I'd grown up listening to his voice on Sesame Street as multiple characters, and on the Muppet show. Sort of felt like I'd lost a family member. In addition, he'd always been someone I would've liked to have met. Well out of reach now. His legacy lives on in Sesame Street for the most part and then there were the movies that he made. The Muppet movies of course, but he was a genius when he made Labyrinth, and the Dark Crystal. Absolute mastery of expressions and direction, in muppets which for the most part have no facial musculature. I'm impressed and always will be.

I think much of what he did was overlooked. Things like hiring Jeff Moss as a song writer for Sesame Street and other things. Jeff Moss wrote what is perhaps my favorite muppet song ever, with Jim Henson singing as Ernie. I remember hearing it when it first ran in an episode in the 80s and then sitting religiously in front of the TV for months after that watching Sesame Street armed with my trusty Fisher Price tape recorder in hopes of capturing the song so I could listen to it whenever I wanted. I did eventually get it, and I probably still have the tape somewhere carefully packed away. Perhaps not.

Here's the song. If I listen to it too much, I end up crying.

I've heard updated versions of this sung in concert with famous artists, but Jim Henson got it right the very first time, and for me his will always be the best.

Pitfalls of House-sitting...

One thing I absolutely hate doing is house sitting. This particular activity is when one watches over a house, generally full of animals that need care, while the owner(s) have gone on vacation, medical leave, or whatever happens to crop up at any given time. To those I have watched their house for, please note that I bear no grudges, and will watch your houses again if asked. But it makes me damned nervous. Actually I should rephrase that and say that I will be extremely picky about whose house I'll house sit. Some of you will get a yes, and some of you will get a no. The people who will get the 'no' already know who they are. If you don't know my answer, then you're probably safe in your ability to secure me for a weekend... maybe. >:)

The 'why' of how I came to hate house sitting began with a neighbor's excursion, the details of which I no longer recall, in which the entire family clambered onto their motor home and disappeared for a month. OK, so it was 3 weeks, but it seemed like an eternity. They had, at that time, a small menagerie of animals, ranging from chickens to goats. The livestock care was fine, even with the one small panic attack I had when I couldn't find their banty hen, regardless of the fact that the hen was in a very tight enclosure. I still have no idea where the hell she was sleeping at night, but no amount of searching in the dark with a flashlight revealed her sleeping spot. Every morning, she'd show up for food INSIDE THE ENCLOSURE. If someone can explain Houdini Hen, I'd pay a small fee to know her secret. I do mean small. Maybe $5.00. Aside from that, I had no issues with the barnyard.

In the house was a different matter, where I took care of a parakeet, a rat, two cats and the family dog. The dog was a malamute. Beautiful, huge, grey beast who missed his family. A LOT. This dog would pester me every night until I let him out, and then he'd sit in the corner of his run and howl. And.. it wasn't just once a night. It was ALL night. For two weeks I got no sleep. None. I was basically the walking dead. Week three, I begged someone to watch the house and critters for me, so my run of sleep deprivation did end. Thankfully the dog didn't go off his food or anything, but he was a wreck and so was I. I promised myself I would never watch a house again. Especially if animals were involved that missed their owner that much. Honestly I was a little annoyed. They could've taken him with them. The RV was enormous. But that's all in the past and I do try not to dwell on it.

Since then I have found myself watching relatives homes which were inhabited by the dreaded pets. I wasn't so worried about the youthful cat, but was terrified that the elderly dog was going to expire while my relatives were vacationing. Apparently my stars were in the right alignment because the dog is still alive today. The cat and dog both were actually a lot of fun once I calmed down and stopped watching them like a vulture eyes weakening prey. They both seemed to like music a lot, which I played while cooking dinners for the dog. You may think that's spoiling a dog, but the dog is still going strong, and I think she's coming up on 17 years of age. Something is obviously working for her.

In all of these cases I could tell you what went wrong. The miserable dog from my first explanation is fairly obvious. From the second, the cat broke something in the house one night, and we still haven't figured out what it was, but I definitely heard something shatter with great enthusiasm. She also knocked over a lamp, and did several other things that were way out of character for her. Yes, my subtle influence can probably be blamed. Generally though when I do something like this, I expect the worst, so am not too surprised when things like this happen.

Which brings me to my most recent escapade in the wide wide world of house sitting.

Somehow, I got talked into watching a friend's house. I guess she wore me down. Either that or the blatant bribery that was flung upon the table worked. I'm chalking it up to exhaustion personally, but whatever the reason, I found myself in a house with 3 cats. One is Orange, one is a Calico, and the last ... forgive me, but the last is a Fraidy Cat. (The names have been changed to protect the innocent.) Fraidy is terrified of anyone she doesn't know. I couldn't rightly blame her given that I used to hide under tables myself when I was little, and people I didn't know showed up.

The other two are a different story. Mr Orange is quite affectionate and loves being held, petted, hugged, brushed, using you as a pillow, using you as a heating pad... using you to soak up the drool he excretes while you pet him. Basically I think you get the picture. In fact the first night I was there, he was so happy with me that he zipped out the cat door (which I was supposed to have locked the minute I walked in the door, so they could come in, but not out) and was gone for about 20 minutes. Then he was back, and he jumped up on me where I was reading a book, and dumped a small snake onto my lap. He looked quite pleased with himself while I scrambled to catch the small reptile before it disappeared into the depths of the couch, or worse the house. Once I finally caught it, ... it pooped on me, while I attempted to take it outside to let it go.

Perfect. I was off to a roaring start.

Day two wasn't nearly so eventful. In fact it passed by without too much trouble at all. Cats came in. Mr Orange came over for a snuggle, and Ms Calico took up position next to my chair so she could easily whap me with her paw;

"Hey." *whap* *whap* *whap*

"Yes, you. Get up and get me more food." *whap* *whap* *whap*

This was generally accompanied by mrrrowwwing. She's a .... portly kitty and I didn't think she should have more than what she ate that morning. Her owners have said that she does need to drop a bit of weight. So, this would go on for about half an hour before Ms Calico would walk off in a huff and pout in the living room. Mr Orange would eventually wear out my scratching hand and he'd go take up position on the back of the couch. Miss Fraidy wouldn't come in until late. She'd come in, give me a nervous look (You know the look. The one that you get when you say the word Vet in their vicinity and they've already figured out what that means.) and then scurry over to the food bowl. Wolf down a bunch of food, then throw me another furtive glance before hastily rushing across the dining room, down the hall and through the cat door into the garage.

I felt guilty, and I still have no idea why.

... perhaps I was getting a touch clairvoyant.

Day three arrived and I made the mistake of thinking that, "Maybe this House-sitting thing wasn't so bad." and let my guard down. Don't worry. Nothing awful happened... although that may depend on your point of view.

When I woke up, it was raining. Nothing heavy, but enough to get everything good and soaked without being a gully washer. Given the rain I decided that watering would probably be a moot point, but I did get up, to let the cats out. That day I was supposed to be going over to a friend's house to help her make dog beds for a donation to a shelter, so after getting dressed I grabbed my backpack and headed for the stairs. Keep in mind I was somewhat flanked by a feline contingent as I headed for the stairs; Mr Orange following and Ms Calico who decided to go into a different room and lay down. Thus, I reached the top of the stairs and started down.

From my vantage point at the top of the stairs I spotted Miss Fraidy sprawled on the stairs, so I started to pause not wanting to spook her. Which is when my partially braced left knee was taken out by a flying tackle from behind.

Why Mr Orange, I had no idea you played offense for an NFL team. Thank you for sacking the quarterback.

My knee gave way. I inadvertently send my backpack flying into the air as I whirled to catch myself from rolling down the stairs and crushing Miss Fraidy to death. My actions were in vain, as I watched from the corner of my eye, as my backpack sailed into the air and landed on Miss Fraidy. My backpack and Miss Fraidy crashed 4 or 5 steps to the bottom, at which point Miss Fraidy leapt with an indignant howl to her three feet and flew through cat flap and disappeared into the backyard.

The only thing I could think of as I watched her go was that she'd broken her leg, since she'd sped out the cat flap using only three legs. So, out the backdoor I went to see if I could find her, which was a long shot considering how high up I was on her list of favorite people. I was out there for a quite a while in the misty rain, which basically had me soaked through. Finally I started looking through the bushes along the back fence hoping that maybe she was hiding under one. She wasn't.

However, a flock of tiny birds had taken shelter in the bush I was searching. There were probably less than 10 birds in there, but when they're flying at your face and shrieking like a reenactment of Hitchcock's "The Birds" it looks like about a million feathered demons. Thankfully, it was quick. They were gone in a matter of seconds. It was still raining. I had failed to the find the injured cat...

... and now, not only was I soaked, but my head was covered in bird shit.

Slowly I slogged back into the house, and up the stairs to the bathroom where I hoped I would remove my new encrustation, and possibly warm up. Somewhere I found a plastic bag, in which I deposited my newly cristined, soggy clothing. Grabbing a towel I reached into the shower and turned it on. From behind the shower curtain erupts the object of my desperate search, and now she's just as wet as I am... and heading downstairs at speed. On ALL four legs. This actually presented something of a problem, as, if she decided to go through the flap into the garage, she'd get into the litter box and I had no idea if the litter was clumping litter.

Have you ever seen what happens to a wet cat that gets into clumping litter? They turn into a seudo sand sculpture, and its fairly difficult to rectify the problem. Solution?

Make sure soggy kitty never reaches the litter.

I chased the cat around the house for a while, before finally cornering her in the downstairs bathroom, where I trapped her by closing the door. My towel ended up drying a cat. Never fear, I did get my shower... and I removed all the bird crap. Somewhere in there I got a phone call from my friend to find out where I was. Quite honestly I had forgotten about the dog bed thing entirely during my romp upstairs and downstairs and all around the town. Before anything else could happen I left, and wasn't back until evening.

When I came in, I had two kitties in the house. Mr Orange and Ms Calico. Miss Fraidy was nowhere to be seen, and quite frankly I would have run too if I'd been on the receiving end of all that. So, I fed the cats, and waited until Miss Fraidy came in before locking the door completely for the night. No one in, and no one out. She ate, while throwing glances at me to make sure I wasn't sneaking up on her, then scurried into the garage. I did not see or hear her come back in, because I was watching a show on my computer. A very engrossing show.

I sneezed.

Miss Fraidy who had apparently been on the other side of the table where I couldn't see her, panicked and made for the outdoor cat flap at speed. The LOCKED cat flap. There was a loud *thwack!* sound and she bounced back about a foot into the kitchen, where she sat weaving slightly as the world realigned with her own reality. Having learned that this cat does better if totally ignored, I tried very hard not to snicker, and never looked directly at her. After a few moments she got up, drank some water and wandered away.

Thankfully, for certain creatures involved, the next day meant the end of my tour of duty.

And this is why I hate house sitting.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Slight Obsession

Actually there might be two slight obsessions. One is most definitely the aquariums. In fact I'm going to see about getting a second larger corner aquarium for my poor little Betta. If you'll recall I had to move him to a back up tank...(which is cursed), because of a certain Platey (yes, it was a Platey not a Molly, and it was a MALE, not a female like I had thought. In short, I ended up with a savaged Betta, a Catfish missing some skin, and the other Sunset Platey missing most of the scales from his head.) had begun making already damaged fins much worse by trying to eat them.

After I put my Betta in the other tank, he developed what appeared to be Fin Rot. Fin Rot is a bacterial infection that basically eats your fish alive from the fins in. Generally it only happens to fish with already savaged fins, and are in water that is dirty. By dirty I mean water that has high ammonia content, without the beneficial bacteria you find in a balanced tank. I'm not sure where or when the Rot started, but I caught it fairly early. From what I'm reading its fairly easy to cure if you clean the tank daily, which means water replacement every day. Also add a bit of aquarium salt (follow the instructions) and get a heater to keep the water at a steady temperature. I don't have a heater for the tank, or aquarium salts, but simply changing the water seems to be working. He's got fin growth coming back in. At least I am really hoping that's what it is. The pictures I'm finding look a lot like it, so I'm hoping its fins being repaired and not a fungus growth. I WILL be getting a heater for both tanks however. With winter coming and the house heating system being a wood stove the temp in the house can fluctuate quite a bit.

If you're wondering what happened to the evil Platey, he went back to the pet shop, where he was put back into a large tank with larger fish who aren't likely to take crap from a Sunset Platey with delusions of grandeur. Personally I was hoping they'd put the little bastard in with an Oscar, but they didn't. It went into a tank with some rather unamused looking Gourami. Large unamused Gourami. The little snot tried attacking them through the bag.

Lesson learned however. Next time I get Plateys, I will observe the pet shop fish tank for a while and see which are mild mannered, AND I'll get at least three females to go with one male. Perhaps I should say IF I ever decide to get more Plateys. My first experience wasn't a nice one.

My second obsession, at least of late, has been Kokeshi Dolls from Japan. I used to see them all over the place and although I thought they were kind of neat, I was reluctant to get one because I didn't know what they signified. Getting something because you think its cool... This is difficult to explain. Hmm. It makes me uncomfortable to have something sitting around in my room as a knickknack, that in another culture would have a much deeper meaning. Or if the item has a belief system somehow related to it. As weird as this may sound to some of you, I try to have respect for other cultures even if they never see my room. It starts with small things you do at home, or in how you behave that can ripple down to cultural relations. Basically I like to know the history behind an object before I go blithely out to get one just because I think it'd be neat to own.

In this case, there was some possible unpleasantness related to the Dolls, but nothing could be proven one way or the other. Whatever the original use for the Kokeshi, it is merely a hand crafted object of art now. Which is fine by me. If you want more info on the possible origins of the Kokeshi, Wiki has a fairly good short explanation, although a Google search will provide you with a much greater spread of speculation. Unfortunately I suspect that what you find may be in part true, and sort of sad.

As I said though, the Kokeshi is now seen as an Art form. So, I started to collect them. They're fairly expensive, so I only get ones that I really like. They sit in the corner of my room (okay, actually their shelving apparatus got moved into the closet because we were painting) on a little free standing shelving unit which can be folded up if need be. Currently they take up the second shelf, right below a little shrine to my cousin who died in 2007. I think she would've liked them. Sadly the bottom shelf is empty because I had to move the plant to sunnier areas. It needs to be re-potted anyway.
Here they are in all their dusty glory. I really should've dusted them off, but they're in an awkward spot, so I just stuck in the camera in and snapped a shot. Some have names I gave them and others remain nameless. From the left side, back row, of the picture we have, Mr Samurai, Miss Red, Little Miss Glitter, and Mr and Mrs Polkadots. Along the front are the rest, but they don't have names... except for the little one in green. Daisy. I tend to like the Kokeshi that are egg shaped rather than the ones that appear to be in two parts like Mr and Mrs Polkadots.

Before anyone asks, no, I don't have a full translation of what the little plaque there in front says. Although I suspect its the name of the Kokeshi, and the artists stamp. The first one I got was the one with the red flowers on an orange background, and I can't remember which one was next. Like I said, I usually have them out where I can see them, and they make me smile.

This concludes the listings of my obsessions... At least the ones that have been most obvious over the last couple of years. I've got other ones that I haven't been goofing around with lately, but will probably doodle around with again at some point.

Tootles. :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tough Guys and Maids

This probably isn't going to be that long of a post, but I figured I should get myself to write about something, or I'm just going to crawl back under my proverbial rock and do.... nothing.

You may have noticed that lovely picture to the left, which shows a picture of a guy and an uncomfortable looking girl. They're the main characters from an Anime that just wrapped up, and I really wish they'd kept going with it, given the vast amounts of unknown story that they never touched. I haven't looked around online to see if there was going to be a follow-up series or not, but the last episode sort of looked final. The funny thing is, I avoided this Anime for a while because the title sort of implied that I'd be watching a series of derogatory shows about girls. This would be due to the show's title "Kaichou wa Maid-sama" which sorta implies things in western cultures. No, I will not be going into that. However, I have to admit that I had this Anime pegged wrong.

One night, in a fit of desperation, I decided to give it a shot, and loved it. The show introduces you to one Misaki Ayuzawa, who has against all odds become the Student Body President at her High School, which up until 2 years before had been an all boys school. This means that only 20% of the students are girls, and the boys would make things difficult if not for Misaki, who spends a great deal of her time whipping the boys into shape. After school her life is further complicated by the fact that she and her family are pretty much destitute, so she's taken a job at a Maid Shop. It's a cafe that has their waitresses dress as maids; basically fan service. I don't really understand the attraction, but it probably has something to do with fantasy tendencies... *shrugs*. Again, culture difference I think... perhaps not...

Into the picture wanders the unwanted Takumi Usui (he'd be the blond) who up to this point has been randomly puttering through life with no particular direction. He's cute, smart and not someone you want to piss off, which of course makes him a girl magnet. Except for Ayuzawa, who basically pegs him for the worst sort of pervert. When Usui discovers Ayuzawa's secret job, things get REALLY fun!

What really makes this show are the characters. Ayuzawa who is determined not to rely on anyone, especially not a guy who she sees as the worst sort of male chauvinist pig. There are reasons for this that get pointed out in the Manga version, that aren't even touched on in the Anime. At the other end of this is Usui, who becomes fascinated with Ayuzawa fairly early on. He's never seen anything like Ayuzawa before, and can't help messing with her. Ayuzawa... well, she's got issues, such as not being terribly familiar with her feelings. Lets just say that Usui knows exactly what he wants, and is having a lot of fun chasing the quarry. Not exactly chasing, more along the lines of presenting her with every opportunity to realize that he loves her, and vice versa.

Usui is... just cool and a great deal more adult in some ways than he should be at that age. Just to turn things on its ear, it's the guy who is in touch with himself and knows what's happening. Ayuzawa knows right from wrong, and stands firm on what she sees as right. She's also a mean fighter, and doesn't always see when she's going to be in trouble. Thankfully Usui is usually there to haul her ass out of the fire.

This was a fun Anime all the way around, made with a lot of humor, seriousness and absurdities galore. My only complaint is that you learn virtually nothing about Usui's background, which is sort of odd in this type of Anime. Usually they show both sides of the relationship, and a lot was implied in the ending sequences that was never touched on. Aside from that, this was such a fun romp, and I really hope they decide to pick up the rest of the story sometime.

So much fun. Must find other shows like this.