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.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

... ugghh....

There are at least 4 things I could write about and have no real inclination to do so. Eventually I'll get around to them I guess, but at the moment I just can't get up enough ... umph? All in all it was sort of a weird day. The weather changed to humid as well as hot, and then it rained. It's coastal weather for a different longitude and latitude and since I'm not there, it makes it a lot more depressing. Most people get homesick because they leave home... I get homesick for a country I only spent 3 months in. Weird but true.

Over the last couple of weeks I got to move my Beta fish to the small back up tank, because one of the Molly fish decided it'd be a good idea to eat him. The Tetra (aka Tetra-loid), who I thought was insane, was actually running interference for the Beta. Beta would get hassled into a corner, the Molly would begin removing more of his fins, and then Tetra-loid would come zooming in and whack the Molly in the side, while the Beta would swim away at speed. The only fish that Molly respects now is the Red Phantom Tetra-loid. She's removed most of the scales off the top of the other Molly's head. He trawls the very top of the tank now, because if he goes any lower, she removes MORE of his scales.

Meanwhile, I got some more Tetras and some more Pepper Cory Cats... One Black Phantom Tetra, one Serpae Tetra and two little corys. This is how I discovered that the Molly is something of a bitch. I haven't had the other fish for long, but I suspect I will be finding a different home for the Molly Hag. Since the pH balance is FINALLY under control, I can get some more Tetras, which is what I wanted in the first place. I'll have to get a few more Corys too, because .... i -know- I put two Pepper Cats in there, but I almost never see them. They're to busy hiding from the Molly Hag. She seems to really hate the Peppers, and I suspect that if there were more of them, they'd be a bit more... comfortable. More friends for the Tetra-loid as well, considering they're all so freaked by the Molly. At least there are lots of places to hide, and the resident Tank Hag can't get to all of them, but it really irritates me to see them all clinging to one side of their home in a cluster you'd normally not see that many species in.

If there is one thing I will not tolerate, it's a Bully, and I do not care if its a different species or not.

The Beta on the other hand is living a solitary life in the 3 gallon tank. He spent the first week looking all over the tank for the other fish. Okay, so there's a lot of speculation on my part, but after a while he went and did what appeared to be pouting in a corner. I'll have to get him some friends, as in a couple of Corys and a few Tetras. Before all that happens though, I have to get the cloudy stuff cleared up in his tank. Not sure what's going on with that, but the enzymes seem to be clearing things up. Slowly. Betas are a bit hardier than the average fish, which makes me hopeful that he'll be alright.

*sighs* We'll see what happens I guess. With my luck, everything is going to kick off.

If you haven't already guessed my luck is awful.