Saturday Surprise — Cursing Parrots and Cute Critters

Well, it’s certainly been another of those exhausting, nerve-wracking weeks, hasn’t it?  Time for just a bit of humour, for ‘just a bit’ is likely all I can muster tonight, but I wanted to see if I could help you start the weekend with a smile.


Curses!!!

The Lincolnshire Wildlife Park located in Friskney, England, adopted five African grey parrots back in August, but you won’t see them on display if you go there.  The parrots, Billy, Elsie, Eric, Jade and Tyson, seemed to be causing the zoo some problems, or rather their language was.  Turns out they knew more swear words than a lot of humans and they weren’t afraid to use them. parrotWith more colorful language than plumage, the birds used different curse words in different British accents, but they were all unprintably coarse. At one point, a group of women walking past the aviary thought the lewd comments shouted at them were from a hidden staff member.  The park had no complaints — in fact, visitors reveled in swearing right back at the birds — but the park officials feared children and parents might not enjoy the experience as much.  So, the parrots were moved into a temporary space away from the public eye, giving them time to be around more family-friendly birds and hopefully clean up their language.

Steve Nichols, the chief executive of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Park, said …

“When a parrot swears, it’s very difficult for other humans not to laugh. And when we laugh, that’s a positive response. And therefore, what they do is they learn both the laugh and the swear word. It’s not so bad with one on its own, but then, if you get five together, once one swears and another one laughs, and another one laughs, before you know it, it sounds like a group of teenagers or an old working men’s club.  Billy is the worst one.”

Now that the birds have been removed from the public exhibits, some guests are arriving who have heard about the vulgar birds but don’t know which cage they’re in. So they have taken to swearing at all of the birds, hoping they’ll get some abuse back!  Personally, I find this entire thing hysterically funny, but I’m sure there are some who would be offended.  The birds seem to have calmed and are due to be back in the public venue soon.


I was RIGHT (for once)

Y’know how I always try to end Jolly Monday and sometimes Saturday Surprise with a cute or funny animal video?  I’ve just always thought it seemed like seeing cute critters would start the day off right.  Well, turns out there is scientific evidence to support my theory!quokkaA new study conducted by the University of Leeds has discovered that watching videos of cute animals is great for your health!

Tourism Western Australia and The University of Leeds partnered up to explore the physiological and psychological impact of cute animals on students and staff at the University of Leeds.

The sessions involved 19 subjects — 15 students and four staff members — and was intentionally timed during winter exams, a time when stress is at a significantly high level. The participants were asked to watch a 30-minute slide show that included photos and video clips of various cute animals, such as puppies, kittens and quokkas.

In all cases, the study saw blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety go down in participants, 30 minutes after watching the video.

The average heart rate of all participants fell from 72.2 bpm to 67.4 bpm: A reduction in heart rate of 6.65% in just 30 minutes.

The average blood pressure across all participants dropped from 136/88 to 115/71. In percentage terms, this represents a 14.9% drop in systolic blood pressure and a 18.28% drop in diastolic blood pressure.

Anxiety rates also went down by 35%, measured using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory.

In a post-study questionnaire, some of the participants comments included:

“I felt happy and calm”

“I wanted to be on that beach with those little kangaroo things (quokkas)

The study also found that most participants preferred video clips over still images, particularly of animals interacting with humans.  And so, rather than me rambling on and on, let’s watch a cute animal video!!!

And … got time for one more?


And on that note, I hope you guys have something fun planned for the weekend!  Keep safe and be happy, my friends!

Saturday Surprise — Nature ‘n Critters

After the week we’ve had … WHEW!  I think we need a breather, a break from the madness, don’t you?  So, I made a few stops here ‘n there and decided to go with some interesting nature pics (in other words, critters!!!) I found in The Guardian’s Week in Wildlife feature.  Just seeing the wonders of nature and the cuteness of the critters will relax you and make you set aside your angst for a few minutes.

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A Bryde’s whale and seagulls feast on anchovies in the Gulf of Thailand. The species has been spotted more frequently after the absence of tourists during the pandemic, which raises hopes of the marine ecosystem being restored after years of damage

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An anteater is released in the Amazon forest after receiving veterinary treatment in Rondônia state, Brazil. Creatures of the Amazon, one of the earth’s most biodiverse habitats, face an ever-growing threat as loggers and farms advance further into the territory

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A young female koala named Ash sits on a Eucalyptus branch at the Australian Reptile Park in Sydney. A New South Wales parliamentary inquiry released in June 2020 found that koalas will become extinct in the state before 2050 without urgent intervention

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A wounded crested porcupine at the veterinary clinic of the ministry of the environment, waiting to be treated and released, in San Salvador

jaguar

An injured adult male jaguar walks along the riverbank at the Encontros das Águas park, in the Porto Jofre region of the Pantanal in Brazil. The Pantanal is suffering its worst wildfires in more than 47 years

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A European hornet eats a rotten pear near Rennes, western France

golden-frog

A golden frog at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Gamboa, a rainforest near Panama City. Cocooned from the outside world, 200 critically endangered golden frogs are living a sheltered existence in Panama, protected from a devastating fungus that threatens to wipe out a third of the country’s amphibian species

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A red admiral butterfly closes its wings on a sunny day in Hengistbury Head, Dorset. • This caption was amended on 21 September 2020. It is not a peacock butterfly as the picture agency originally stated.

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Ash from nearby wildfires clings to the threads of a spider web in a blackberry thicket in western Oregon, US. Ash has been raining down in the area for the last due to the fires

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An Adimantus ornatissimus grasshopper rests on a tree near New Delhi on 9 September. The grasshopper family is one of the most diverse, including more than 6,700 valid species around the world.

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P-54, a three-year-old mountain lion living in the Santa Monica mountains, gave birth to a litter of kittens – males P-82 and P-83, and female P-84 – last May. Researchers believe this is her first litter. A mountain lion baby boom has occurred this summer in the Santa Monica mountains and Simi hills west of Los Angeles. Thirteen kittens were born to five mountain lion mothers between May and August, according to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

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A herd of Sulawesi black apes (Macaca tonkeana) waiting for passersby to provide food on the Trans Sulawesi road section, Parigi Moutong regency, Central Sulawesi province, Indonesia on 8 September. Even though the local natural resources conservation agency has prohibited the provision of food to endemic animals because it can change their behaviour, many passersby ignore the ban.

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Eight-month-old koala joey Jasper clings to mother Nutsy at Sydney zoo on 8 July.

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Acorn woodpeckers look for bugs in a dead tree in the Angeles national forest where the Bobcat fire is burning above Duarte, California about 27 miles north-east of Los Angeles on 7 September.

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Although protected by the US Endangered Species Act since 1973, there are only about 300 black-footed ferrets alive in the wild today, spread across about 20 sites in the western US, Canada and Mexico. Habitat loss and the widespread shooting and poisoning of prairie dogs are factors, but nothing poses a greater threat than the plague-carrying bacteria Yersinia pestis.

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Smoke from numerous nearby wildfires tints the sun a vivid colour as a vulture is silhouetted on its perch on a dead tree near Elkton in western Oregon on 9 September. Hot and dry weather continues in the Pacific north-west with the potential for more massive wildfires.

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A macaw seeking food about to land on an antenna in Caracas, Venezuela on 5 September. Caracas’ signature bird, the blue-and-yellow macaw, is one of four such species that inhabit the valley. Legend has it that it was introduced in the 1970s by Italian immigrant Vittorio Poggi, who says he nurtured a lost macaw and trained it to fly with his motorcycle as he cruised around his neighbourhood.

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A ditch jewel dragonfly (Brachythemis contaminata) seen on the outskirts of New Delhi on 6 September.

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A male lesser prairie chicken climbs a sage limb to rise above the others at a breeding area near Follett, Texas. Wildlife advocates say efforts to restore the birds could be set back by a proposal made on 4 September to exempt areas from habitat protections that are meant to save imperilled species.

And there you have this week’s selection of wildlife photos.  Some are so adorable, some unique in ways of their own, and some are just … weird-looking.  But, as they say, never judge a book … or a critter … by its cover … or its fur!  I hope you’ve enjoyed the cute pics today, hope they brought a smile to your gorgeous faces, and now I hope you have a wonderful weekend!  And to start you off on the right foot … here’s a funny critter video!

Saturday Surprise — Funny Critters

I haven’t done a Saturday Surprise post for a couple of weeks, but since most of my posts have been pretty dark this past week, I thought I owed you guys a break from the darkness.

For the past two years in September (2018, 2019) I have posted pictures from the Comedy Wildlife Photography finalists … so let’s make it an annual tradition, shall we?  These critter photos are so fun they are bound to bring at least a bit of a smile to even the most curmudgeonly face!

The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards is a global photography competition founded in 2015 by Paul Joynson-Hicks and Tom Sullam. It was established with the goal of promoting the conservation of wildlife and their environs through the use of positive and upbeat imagery. Through the use of humorous images, the competition has gained a global following, and offers a new approach to building conservation awareness. The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards have had 3 bestselling books published, working with Natalie Galustian, Joel Simons and Blink Publishing. In 2019 Michelle Wood was brought in as the third director. In 2019 the 40 finalists were showcased at the annual Wildlife & Safari Travel Show. The competition has annual exhibitions around the world and recently launched another competition: The Comedy Pet Photography Awards in association with Mars Petcare.

I hope you enjoy this year’s finalist selections …

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Surprise smiles, Lake Bogoria, Kenya.  While walking on trail at the southern side of Lake Bogoria, the photographer spotted a group of dwarf mongooses Photograph: Asaf Sereth/CWPAs 2020

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The race, India ‘My friends and I walked in the centre of the small town of Hampi in India. There was bicycle parking nearby. Suddenly a flock of langurs jumped on these bicycles and began to frolic. We were afraid to frighten them away, I started taking pictures from afar, but then we came very close to them and the langurs continued to play with bicycles’ Photograph: Yevhen Samuchenko/CWPAs 2020


monkey

So hot, Japan A monkey soaks in natural hot springs Photograph: Wei Ping Peng/CWPAs 2020


elephant

I had to stay late at work, Chubut, Argentina ‘South sea elephant in Patagonia (Isla Escondida) They adopt very curious gestures!’ Photograph: Luis Burgue/CWPAs 2020


polar-bear

Lamentation! Spitzbergen, Norway Photograph: Jacques Poulard/CWPAs 2020


seal

Having a laugh, Caithness, Scotland ‘A young common seal chills out on a rock in Sinclair Bay, its thick layer of blubber moulding into the contours of the rock. Looking as if it is enjoying a really good joke, the seal is, in fact, yawning’ Photograph: Ken Crossan/CWPAs 2020


damselfly

Hide and seek, Devon, England ’As this azure damselfly slowly woke up, he became aware of my presence. I was lined up to take a profile picture of his wings and body, but quite sensibly the damsel reacted to the human with the camera by putting the marsh grass stem between me and it. I took the shot anyway. It was only later that I realised how characterful it was. And how much the damselfly looks like one of the muppets’ Photograph: Tim Hearn/CWPAs 2020


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Smiley, El Hierro, Canary Islands Photograph: Arthur Telle Thiemann/CWPAs 2020


puffins

Seriously, would you share some? Scotland ‘Atlantic puffins are amazing flyers and their fishing talents are, well, as you see, some do better than others! I just love the second puffin’s look: can I just have one please? Photograph: Krisztina Scheeff/CWPAs 2020


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It’s a mocking bird! Near Kirkcudbright, Scotland ‘I was hoping a kingfisher would land on the “No fishing” sign but I was over the moon when it landed for several seconds with a fish. It then flew off with its catch. It appeared to be mocking the person who erected the sign!’ Photograph: Sally Lloyd-Jones/CWPAs 2020


parakeets

Social distance, please! Kaudulla national park, Sri Lanka ‘This is the beginning of a scene which lasted approximately one minute and in which each of the rose-ringed parakeets used a foot to clean the partner’s beak. While the whole scene was very informative, this first photo with the male already holding his foot high in the air was just asking to be taken out of context’ Photograph: Petr Sochman/CWPAs 2020


elephants

Wait up Mommy, look what I got for you! Kaziranga, India ‘At the Kaziranga national park, this elephant mother and calf seemed completely oblivious to our jeep and went about their stroll through the pond. The mom seemed to be giving her calf lessons on eating the hyacinth: select a lush green bunch, rip them out from the root, pound the stems against the trunk to remove the mud and then swallow whole. The calf looked like she was thoroughly enjoying the lesson and duly followed her mother’s every move’ Photograph: Kunal Gupta/CWPAs 2020


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Tough negotiations, Israel Photograph: Ayala Fishaimer/CWPAs 2020

 

penguins

I could puke, Falkland Islands ‘This picture was taken at sunrise. A group of gentoo penguins went to the shore to go fishing when one stopped and vomited’ Photograph: Christina Holfelder/CWPAs 2020


hippos

Laughing hippo, Masai Mara national reserve, Kenya ‘The baby hippo whispered to the mother’s ear: “I had a wonderful dream. Alex invited me for tea so I went to his tent. He pointed to the empty chair and invited me to sit on it. I did so and suddenly the chair broke. I was on the floor. Alex started laughing and went to the adjoining chair to sit down. As soon as he sat down, I heard a loud crack. His chair also broke and he was thrown on to the floor. We both started laughing with tears coming from our eyes.” Then I woke up and started smiling’ Photograph: Manoj Shah/CWPAs 2020


mouse

O sole mio, Hungary ‘It’s like he was just “singing” to me! She had a very nice voice’ Photograph: Roland Kranitz/CWPAs 2020


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Faceplant, Namibia ‘This elephant calf in Namibia was slow to notice when his mother started to move away. When he tried to hurry and catch up, he tripped over his front feet and faceplanted. His mother heard the commotion and immediately came back to help him up, and the calf continued on his way with no damage except to his dignity’ Photograph: Tim Hearn/CWPAs 2020

Saturday Surprise — Critters!

Saturday Surprise almost wasn’t again this week … I thought I couldn’t find a smile, couldn’t find any humour.  But a voice inside my head kept whispering … “You got this.  Your readers depend on you to help them smile.  It isn’t all about just you, y’know!”  And finally, after the voice, one of my two alter-egos, invaded my thoughts one time to many, I set aside what I was working on and went in search of … something fun.  Actually, it didn’t take me long to find several things and the hardest part was deciding which was the most fun!

Now, most of you who have followed Filosofa’s Word for any time know that if I’m looking for a pick-me-up, it’s almost certainly going to involve critters, and today is no exception.  Living in a world populated only by the human species would be, to me, the worst nightmare imaginable!


Remember I told you a couple of weeks ago in a Jolly Monday post about Tucson the dog, who kept hanging around a Hyundai dealership until finally they adopted him and gave him a job?  Well, in Richmond, Australia, a similar thing happened, only this time with a cat … Elwood, the cat!  He hung around the Epworth Hospital so long that they finally gave him a job as a security guard, complete with his own badge!Elwood

According to his co-worker, Chantel Trollip …

“He is lovely and friendly, but not overly affectionate. He enjoys a good pat, but likes to keep things short and move around a fair bit. He is on the security team, after all, has to make sure everyone coming and going gets checked. I think any potential criminals are thwarted by his sweetness when passersby see him! He has a very sweet chirp of a meow and I think anyone with any ill will would automatically change their plans upon hearing it and so I assume this is his way of getting the job done.”

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I bet most of you have never heard of the Somali elephant shrew!  In fact, I hadn’t until last night when I was digging around for fun critter things.  This little guy has been considered extinct for the past 50+ years, since 1968, and was just found safe and sound in Djibouti, a country in the Horn of Africa, by a group of scientists.shrew-1According to Steven Heritage, a research scientist at the Duke University Lemur Center …

“We did not know which species occurred in Djibouti and when we saw the diagnostic feature of a little tufted tail, we looked at each other and we knew that it was something special. This is a welcome and wonderful rediscovery during a time of turmoil for our planet, and one that fills us with renewed hope for the remaining small mammal species on our most-wanted list.”

shrew-2In order to catch these Somali elephant shrews, researchers set up more than 1,000 traps at 12 locations. To lure these cuties in, they used a mixture of peanut butter, oatmeal, and yeast.

At first sight, it looks kind of like a mouse. But there’s also this tiny trunk-like nose that resembles an elephant’s. Apparently, some of the Somali sengi’s closest living relatives are the aardvark, elephant, and manatee.shrew-3shrew-4shrew-5


Foxes are known for being friendly and curious, and they aren’t above paying a visit to people’s homes and gardens on occasion.  I came across some fun pictures of such fox guests, invited or not …

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Snack Time!!!

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Our Humane Officer Was Called Out To Ocean Beach Yesterday Because A Resident There Reported A Critter Had Gotten Into Her House. The Resident’s Dog Was Playing With An Unknown Animal, Who Ended Up Running Into The House


Well, folks, that’s all I’ve got for this Satur …

jolly  What, Jolly???  What are you doing up this early on a Saturday?  Huh?  Oh … that’s right … I can’t believe I almost forgot the cute critter video you picked out last night!  One of the cutest animals in the world is the quokka …


Okay, now we’re finished!  Have a happy weekend, my friends!

Saturday Surprise — International Cat Day!

Hello dear friends and welcome to the …weekendBig plans for the weekend?  Relative to the last 20 or so weekends, we do actually have ‘big’ plans, for this evening.  We are having a cookout with our friends/neighbors Maha, Ali, and their three sons.  We haven’t gotten together to share a meal and an evening for quite a while, largely due to the pandemic, but it should be fun.  They are from Iraq and grill a number of interesting dishes, while we will provide such mundane things as potato salad, pasta salad, homemade cranberry sauce, and a dessert or two.  The best part, though, is just spending an evening in their company, lots of love ‘n laughter!

Today, August 8th, just happens to be International Cat Day!!!  As one who shares a residence with five cats, I dare not ignore this day, else I could end up in shreds!  International Cat Day was created by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in 2002. The IFAW has existed since 1969 and was founded in Canada.

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A few interesting and fun facts about cats to kick off the day …

  • Over 30% of U.S. households are shared with at least one feline family member. We don’t refer to ours as pets, and don’t consider ourselves ‘owners’, for really, they are furry family members, not an object to be ‘owned’.
  • Mary Todd Lincoln was once asked if Abe Lincoln had any hobbies? And her reply was “cats.”
  • Charles Dickens once said, “What greater gift than the love of a cat?”
  • John Lennon was also a big fan of cats. Over the years, he had cats named Salt and Pepper, Major and Minor, Tim, Sam, Mimi, Bernard, Sally, Elvis, and Jesus.
  • The British Government employs over 100,000 cats to keep mice away—that’s almost double the population of Greenland.
  • The mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, is a cat named Stubbs. He is now responsible for the town’s steady stream of around 30-40 tourists daily, which is pretty good, for a town of just 900 people.
  • In the 1870s, a Belgian village trained 37 mail cats to deliver letters. Conceived by the esteemed Belgian Society for the Elevation of the Domestic Cat, the plan was to wrap waterproof mail bags around each feline’s neck. The plan failed.
  • Tom, of the Tom and Jerry cartoons, was originally named Jasper.
  • The wealthiest cat in the world is Blackie, a feline who inherited its owners’ near $13 million estate after their death.

toon-2While all our kitties, past and present, have been average tabbies or tuxedos, there are a number of rather unique cat breeds in the world.  Rather than me telling you about them, this video presents an array of ten of the most unique ones in the world …

The purpose of International Cat Day, besides giving me an excuse to post some fun cat pictures, is to encourage people to adopt a cat from their local shelter, and also to help educate those who live with cats about such things as feline health, grooming, care & feeding.  With that said, how about some cute & fun kitty pics?

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black-catYou’ve all heard the myth that black cats are bad luck, but did you know that in the UK and Japan, black cats are considered good luck!  In the English Midlands, new brides are given black cats to bless their marriage, and the Japanese believe that black cats are good luck—particularly for single women. Meanwhile, the Germans believe that a black cat crossing your path from left to right is ominous, but if the feline switches directions and goes right to left, it’s fortuitous.  Who knew?

Let’s finish our celebration of the cat with a cute kitty video, yes?

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s short ‘International Cat Day’ celebration!  Remember … cats are people too!  If you are lucky enough to share your domicile with a cat … be sure to hug him/her today, and maybe splurge and give them a bit of catnip, or just a tiny bit of tuna … or tuma as our own Miss Izzie calls it!  I hope you have a fun weekend, whatever you do!toon-3

Saturday Surprise — Strange Architecture

Good Saturday morning and welcome to the weekend!  I’m so excited about my Saturday plans I can barely contain myself!  After my shower and morning routine, I’m gonna throw a load of laundry in the washer, then spend the next 15 hours in front of my computer!  Whoo Hoo!!!  {Sarcasm very much intended}  I hope you have fun plans, as well!

I was at a loss for a topic for Saturday Surprise … I trolled my usual sources, but nothing jumped out at me, and I was ready to give up, but I also didn’t feel like writing yet another political post just at the moment.  And so, I let my mind meander for a while and came up with something …

While I’ve never had any desire to become an architect, I’ve always been fascinated by different {read weird} buildings, so I went in search of, and found, some weird buildings I thought might make for a fun way to kick off the weekend.

bldg-1This is a residential complex located in Darmstadt, German, called the Waldspirale, which translates to “forest spiral” in English.  On the outside, some of its most notable features are the tower that resembles Russian onion domes, an absence of straight lines and sharp colors, and the multicolored painting of the building.  I was more intrigued by the appearance of uneven layers, as if someone had tried to squish it like a sandwich!


bldg-2This is the Krzywy Domek (Crooked House) in Sopot, Poland.  It is actually part of the Rezydent shopping center. It was designed by Szotynscy and Zaleski, who were inspired by fairy tale drawings.  It reminds me of pictures I’ve seen of some buildings in San Francisco after the earthquake of 1906 … or it makes me think of a huge giant coming along and just squeezing the building from the sides.


bldg-3Here we have the Casa do Penedo, located in the Fafe Mountains of Portugal.  This is a private home built between 4 large boulders. The property includes many amenities, including a fireplace and swimming pool.


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I think this one, the Lotus Temple in Delhi, India, isn’t weird so much as beautiful … it somehow reminds me of the Sydney Opera House.   Its renowned flower-like shape has won it numerous architectural rewards.


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Needless to say, this one captured my attention.  It is the Kansas City Library in Kansas City, Missouri.  The “community bookshelf” runs along the south wall of the parking garage. The book spines measure 25′ by 9′ and reflect a variety of reading interests, all suggested by Kansas City readers.  Several of my readers are huge “Lord of the Rings” fans, so you’ll be pleased to note that is one of the books featured on the wall!


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What you see here is a Low-Impact Woodland House located in Cynghordy, Wales, in the United Kingdom.  Using only £3000, a chisel, a chainsaw and a hammer, Simon Dale and his father-in-law raised this cozy, woodland home up from the ground in just four months.  Built in 2005, the house is set into the earth, giving it the appearance of a hobbit home.  The design allows for increased energy-efficiency, keeping the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer.


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This is the one building in today’s collection that is not yet built, but is still in the planning stages.  Still, I thought it interesting enough to include.  It is a Rotating Tower that is to be built in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and once completed, all 80 floors will rotate independently, spanning 360 degrees every 90 minutes.  While that may not be a dizzying speed … you might never know which direction to walk when you exited the building at the end of the day!


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The Nautilus House in Naucalpan, Mexico, is shaped like a sea shell (on first glance I thought it was a snail shell).  Built by architect Javier Senosiain, it was constructed to be a livable home and features smooth surfaces, spiral stair cases, and natural paintings.  According to Senosiain it is both earthquake-proof and maintenance-free.


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The Museum Moderner Kunst in Vienna, Austria, appears to have had a house dropped on it!  Somehow this reminds me of “The Wizard of Oz”!  Artist Erwin Wurm is known for his unusual, sometimes humorous, and occasionally puzzling work. While his “House Attack” piece could fall into any or all of those categories, it’s at the very least intriguing. It was completed in 2006, but I read that the house atop the museum has since been removed.  Still, I thought it deserved inclusion here.


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This is the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandrina, Egypt.  It is a major library and cultural center located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It resembles an angled discus or giant sundial. It was created to reincarnate the famous ancient library of Alexandrina, which held the largest collection of manuscripts in the world but burned down in the 3rd century.


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bldg-11-bKubus Woningen, or Cubic Houses, are located in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.  They were constructed by architect Piet Blom in the 1970s after he was asked to solve the dilemma of building houses on top of a busy road.  With 38 regular units and two “super-cubes”, each slanted cubic residence is held up by a hexagonal pillar, some of which are located atop a pedestrian bridge spanning the four-lane Blaak Street. While it solved the urban planning problem, it created some highly odd residences in the process.  Although each cube house contains about 1,080 square feet of floor space, only a quarter of this, approximately 270 square feet, is usable due to the sharp angles of the architecture. Even worse, this 270-square-foot area is spread out across four floors. After entering on the ground level, residents must take a narrow staircase to reach the first floor, a tiny, triangle-shaped room which features a living room and kitchen. A flight of stairs up are two bedrooms and a bathroom, and the top floor is a small free space, typically used as a garden.


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Wonderworks is a local attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in the Smoky Mountains. It’s primarily an entertainment center focused on science exhibits. It was designed to look as if the building was picked up by severe weather and dropped upside down on an existing building.  And once again, I am reminded of the “Wizard of Oz”!


The header image is Casa Terracota, or Ceramic House, located in a mountain village of Colombia.  It is known by locals as the Flintstone House.  The house is is entirely built by hand with clay and parched in the sun, freely shaped to look like a cottage.


I hope you enjoyed this brief tour of a few of the worlds oddest buildings.  Now, have a wonderful weekend, my friends!

Saturday Surprise — Teeny Tiny

The weekend is here at long last … I know you all likely have big plans for the weekend, like … um … well, you can watch the grass as it grows, or … ooh ooh … I know … you can finally wash the walls you’ve been promising yourself you would do for 15 years now!  Chafing at the invisible bonds?  Moi?  Nah, only in jest.  In truth, I’m rather content to stay home.  And … it gives me time to dig up some fun things like I have in store for you today!


Fanni Sandor of Hungary is a miniature artist.  No no … she isn’t teeny-tiny, but her art is teeny-tiny, yet in a huge sort of way!  I’m just confusing the heck out of you now, aren’t I?  I tend to have that effect on people sometimes.  Take a look and you’ll see what I mean …12

See what I mean now?  Look at the detail there … everything just perfect.  Ms. Sandor is a biologist who worked with nature conservation projects until she had children, but now she is a full-time miniaturist.  Sandor started making her first miniatures at the age of 6, but only much later in life did she turn that passion into a profession.

“In my twenties, I saw professional miniaturists’ work for the first time through the internet. I was completely fascinated. I realized there are a lot of miniature lovers who live around the world, and some of them are making miniatures at an artistic level. That was the point when I decided I wanted to be a professional miniaturist and I wanted to make art with my works.”

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“I’m used to drawing, painting, and sculpting, so I had the basic skills which are needed for this art form. I practiced a lot until I showed my first new generation of miniature work for an audience. In my work, my most important aim is to produce realistic and detailed representations.”

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“The first step of making miniature animals is collecting a lot of pictures of the animal species I want to sculpt. After that, I make a few sketches of the animal. The drawing is very important, because it’s much easier to sculpt if you do some study drawings of the subject. After that, I make the sculpture. For sculpting, I use paper embossing tools and pin ending tools. After baking, I add more details to the sculpture with my carving tools. The next step is painting. It’s very important for me that I paint the finished sculpture very detailed; however, the fur or feather coat will cover the paint. And the last step is the furring or feathering. I attach the fibers or feathers to the body with a strong glue. The legs are made of wire.”

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“In 2014, when I thought my miniatures were good enough, I applied for the IGMA Artisan title in the animal figures category, and I got it. (IGMA—International Guild of Miniature Artisans was founded to promote fine miniatures as an art form.) It was a great honor. After two years of hard work, in 2016, I was awarded the IGMA Fellow title (this honor is given to those whose work is the epitome of excellence) and I was over the moon.”

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Aren’t these just amazing???  This woman has so much talent … I am in awe.

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I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, whatever you do!!!

Saturday Surprise — It’s A Surprise!

Good morning my friends and welcome!  Have you noticed that weekends aren’t quite what they used to be?  Even so, though, we will celebrate the beginning of the weekend in style this morning, and with hopes that this weekend will bring joy in one form or another.  For me, it means that at least I don’t have to cook, for daughter Chris cooks on Saturday night, and Miss Goose on Sunday, so I do get a break.

The folks at the San Antonio Zoo in Texas did not waste their time while the zoo has been closed due to the pandemic!  These folks played with Lego building blocks!  Take a look at some of the things they built …

pandas

peacock

frog

bee

mantisAmazing, aren’t they?  I used to build with Lincoln Logs when I was a kid, and managed to do a windowless log cabin a time or two, but that was the extent of it for me!  This Lego zoo is awesome, and … the icing on the cake is that you don’t have to mingle and mix, but you can see all the Lego-critters from your car as you drive through.

lemur

polar-bears

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butterflyThe “Wild Connections” exhibition of animal sculptures was created by famous New York artist Sean Kenney, who is also a certified Lego professional. Who knew there was such a thing as a ‘certified Lego professional’???  These animals are entirely made from Lego bricks and will be on display until September 5th. The exhibition features over 30 LEGO sculptures, created with more than three million LEGO pieces, of animals like pandas, lemurs, tortoises, birds like peacocks and bald eagles, and even insects like bees and butterflies.

throated-hummingbird

ladybug

tortoise

chameleon

dragonflyEach sculpture is unique and took a lot of time and patience to make. For example, the sculpture of baby pandas took 405 hours to make and the artist used 53,460 bricks to build it, whereas the sculpture of a bald eagle took 184 hours and 42,198 bricks to build. It’s good to know that artists like Sean Kenney used the global lockdown to create and shed some light in these uneasy times!

duck-ducklings

lion

buffalo

jumping-loi

calfSays Tim Morrow, President and CEO of the San Antonio Zoo …

“LEGO bricks have been a large part of many childhoods sparking curiosity, ingenuity, and creativity. Now they can be experienced larger than life, in nature by families visiting the zoo. These giant plants, animals, and bugs are the perfect complement to a zoo visit.”

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snow-leopard

birdbath

deer

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I hope you enjoyed seeing these amazing creations!  Hopefully, by next summer, we can see the animals up close and in person, but for now, aren’t these grand?

Have a fun weekend, whatever you do!

Saturday Surprise — Short, Fun Critter Tales

I almost skipped Saturday Surprise this week, for I had another political post ready to go for this morning and really couldn’t seem to get in the mood for anything light-hearted and fun.  And then, something crossed my radar that led to something else, and before long I realized there was something not quite right with my face … the corners of my mouth were turned up instead of down … I was actually smiling!  And thus came the idea for Saturday Surprise that had eluded me earlier in the evening.  So, get ready to smile at these very short, but fun critter tales …


Big cats are kitties too

ArwenJill Hicks was driving home from work when she saw what she thought was a cat run towards the road. Worried that it was alone, she scooped up the little “kitten” and took her home.  After making “Arwen” a cozy bed, she posted a picture on Facebook, asking if anyone would adopt the “bobtail kitten.” It didn’t take long before her neighbor helped her realize that it wasn’t just a kitten with a bobtail, it was actually a bobcat. “Thank the lord for her because I sure was about to put that baby in the sink and give it a bath and put it in bed with me!” Hicks joked on Facebook. Hicks took the soon-to-be-much-bigger kitty to a wildlife rescue who cared for her until she could be released into the wild.


And speaking of big cats …

mr-bMeet Mr. B.  Mr. B. is a big cat, but not a bobcat, leopard, panther, tiger or other wild cat, he’s just a big cat.  My best guess, knowing a bit about felines, is that he is a Maine Coon cat.

“OMG, big boi Mr. B is a CHONK. He’s a chonk of a chonk. He redefines the term. Can you guess how much he weighs? More importantly, can you give him a home?”

When the Morris Animal Refuge posted the above message, alongside a picture of said Mr. B., they were unprepared for how viral the big boy would go. So many people were touched by the massive cat and wanted more information about adopting him that he crashed the shelter’s website. “Mr. B. apologizes for crashing our website. We have our team working to get it back up as we speak. Unfortunately, they’re all cats, so it may take a little while,” they wrote. Happily, he’s since found his forever home.


A deer who is a real dear

It almost sounds like the opening to a fairytale: A lonely old woman who lives in a secluded cabin in the woods is visited every day by a magnificent stag who rewards her for her unselfish deeds. But this is 100 percent real life!deer-1Mette Kvam, 81, of Norway, had recently suffered the loss of her husband and was trying to adjust to living alone when one day she noticed a deer at her window. She fed him a piece of bread and immediately a friendship was born. “Flippen” now comes to visit her daily. She makes sure to always keep his favorite bread on hand and he keeps her company. She says he has saved her from loneliness and she loves nothing more than to feed and visit with him.


And speaking of animal buddies …

Buzz-1Tough, tattooed, and burly, Mark Cardenaz is probably the last person you’d describe as “Dr. Doolittle” but that’s exactly how friends describe the ex SWAT officer. So, no one was surprised when he took in an injured hummingbird he found on his back porch, nursing “Buzz” back to health with Pedialyte and sugar for six weeks. But that’s not where the story ends. After he released Buzz back into the wild he thought he’d never see his little buddy again but every year the bird flies from South America back to Cardenaz’s home in Georgia and lands in his hand. This year, Cardenaz worried something had happened when Buzz didn’t show up at his usual time but several weeks later, there he was, flitting around his head and begging for pets.


Seeing-eye cat?

After Terfel, an eight-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever in North Wales, U.K., developed cataracts in 2012, he began to bump into walls and furniture. Soon enough, the once-energetic dog was spending most of his time in his dog bed, unable to find his way around.

TerfelOn a whim, Terfel’s owner Judy Godfrey-Brown let a stray cat, whom she named Pwditat (pronounced Puddy-tat), into her home. The feline made a beeline for the blind dog and began using its paws and head to herd Terfel into the garden. Now the unlikely friends sleep together, and Pwditat helps Terfel find his way everywhere.


An inseparable bond

toldoA sprig of acacia, paper towels, and a plastic cup are just a few of the gifts that Toldo, a devoted gray-and-white cat, has placed on his former owner Iozzelli Renzo’s grave in Montagnana, Italy, every day since the man died. Renzo adopted Toldo from a shelter when the cat was three months old, and the two formed an inseparable bond. After Renzo passed away, Toldo followed the coffin to the cemetery, and now “stands guard” at the grave for hours at a time, says Renzo’s family.


Now to wrap up with a cute animal video about a baby squirrel who adopted a human family …


I hope that at least one of these stories, all of which, except the video, came from Readers Digest, by the way, has brought a smile to your face this morning.  And now, as I bid you adieu, I wish you a fun and happy weekend!

Saturday Surprise — Avian Humour

I must admit that I nearly forgot that today is Saturday.  There’s a reason for this … no, I’m not losing all my marbles, only a few of them.  See, daughter Chris was off from work yesterday (Friday), which made it feel like Saturday all day, for she’s never home on Friday.  So, since I thought it was Saturday all day long, when I sat down to write this morning’s post, I wasn’t thinking about Saturday Surprise, and I had another post about half completed when a little birdie tapped into my mind and said, “Yo!  It’s Saturday, not Sunday!”  And so, I changed gears, but with some difficulty.  Since it was already midnight and I had no plan, I must settle for some funny bird pictures I found over at Bored Panda.  Hopefully, they will at least make you smile a bit.

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birds-2

Proud momma bird with newly hatched baby

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A warm place to be

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Eh … not even big enough for a snack

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Caught one of those alien drone birds!

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Photobombed by an owl!

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Bees???  What bees?

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Oh that’s gonna hurt!

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Apologies for such a short Saturday Surprise, but I do hope that you enjoyed the birds!  And one last treat … I love owls, and I came across this video of some really adorable owls!

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!!!Weekend