Video Fridays: Guinea Pigs, Because Friday

WARNING_CUTE_PREHey folks, I’ve scoured the interwebs today looking for a video for today’s Video Fridays installment, and I couldn’t find anything better than this.

Ironically, it’s my shortest ever Video Fridays installment, but when you’ve got guinea pigs acting this painfully cute, you have to think of the consequences of this level of cuteness lasting more than 31 seconds.

Could anyone really withstand any more of this without rushing out and finding a guinea pig and taking one home?

And if that happens in numbers that I suspect it would, pet stores could very well find themselves completely wiped out of guinea pig inventory during holiday season.

So, here it is, 31 seconds of cuteness.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

If More People Were Into Extreme Shepherding, The World Would Be A Better Place

shepherdingThere was a time, not long ago, when I would watch a video like the one below and cynically dismiss it as the product of people with WAY too much time on their hands.

But when I watched the following earlier today, posted by a friend on Facebook, I had a very different reaction indeed.

With all of the horrible, destructive things that humans are prone to spend their time on, if more people were to be wrapped up in innocent, playful, harmless activities like Extreme Shepherding (you’ll see), I really do think the world would be a far, far better place.

See, I’m still shaken up by the shooting at Umpqua Community College last week, and as details have emerged about the paranoid delusions of the shooter’s mother, the power trip of deadly weapons shared by gun owners all over the country, the glorification of and longing for a return to Wild West justice, is indicative of a community of people who invest an enormous amount of time and energy in the culture of guns.

Ironically, this is how one of the shepherds involved in making the video below describes the project (my emphasis added in bold):

“We took to the hills of Wales armed to the teeth with sheep, LEDs and a camera, to create a huge amazing LED display. Of sorts.”

If only…

Headline of the Day: Threats To Male Genitalia, Part II

pacuA few weeks ago I posted a Headline of the Day installment, featuring an article in British newspaper/website The Guardian, with the cringe-inducing headline: Penis transplant patient to become a father

Well, I don’t know what it is with British newspapers, but they seem to have a very specialized interest in threats to male genitalia, evident by this latest cringe-inducing headline from another UK newspaper/website:

Testicle-munching fish species found in US lake

The Telegraph

OWIE!!!!!!!!!

You gotta love the drama they’re reaching for here:

A species of fish best-known for attacking human testicles has apparently invaded America.

It’s an invasion!!! Protect your reproductive organs! Run!!!

LOL!

And could they have picked a better photo to accompany the article? I think not! Coupled with the following bit of information, it makes for a very effective argument that men should avoid these fish at all cost!

I know I will!

“The pacu is not normally dangerous to people but it has quite a serious bite, there have been incidents in other countries, such as Papua New Guinea where some men have had their testicles bitten off…”

The Jurassic World-Jaws Connection

jurassic_worldSo, I went with friends to see Jurassic World this past Saturday, helping it smash the opening weekend box office record, despite my declaration back in December 2012 that I’m not a fan of the AmusementParkRideIfication of movies.

What can I say? I was in the mood for some unapologetic eye candy.

Anyway, while I knew going in that Steven Spielberg — Director of the first two Jurassic Park movies and Executive Producer of the third — was the Executive Director of Jurassic World, what I never expected was such an explicit thread connecting 2015’s Jurassic World and Spielberg’s second film and breakout blockbuster hit from exactly 40 years ago, 1975’s Jaws.

There are two references to Jaws in Jurassic World (spoiler alert!):

  1. In a fairly early scene in the movie, we see a Sea World-esque exhibit at the Jurassic World amusement park, where a Great White shark is lowered over the water to lure a gigantic Mosasaurus to burst through the surface, into the air, and swallow the shark whole.
  2. At the climax of the movie, our heroes are trapped, and the youngest among them, the middle school dinosaur savant, recites the line, “We need more teeth.”

The first reference is obvious enough. They could have used any number of very large animals as bait for the Mosasaurus, but they chose a shark.

The second reference, however, may not be as obvious, but I recognized it immediately, because it refers to one of the most oft-quoted lines from the heavily quoted Jaws.

As seen in the clip below, Roy Scheider‘s Martin Brody, upon seeing the shark up close and personal for the first time, reports to Robert Shaw‘s Quint, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

Both “We need more teeth.” and “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” suggest that more of something is needed for the characters’ survival, and they both foreshadow the climaxes of their respective movies.

In the case of the former, the line gives Bryce Dallas Howard‘s Claire the idea to let the Tyrannosaurus Rex out of its paddock to fight the Indominus Rex, allowing them to escape. In the case of the latter, the boat does indeed prove to be too small, rammed and torn apart by the Great White, killing Quint, and nearly killing Brody and Richard Dreyfuss‘s Matt Hooper.

Coming full circle, back to my declaration about the AmusementParkRideIfication of movies, I’m inclined to stand by that characterization, but I feel like, in the two and a half years since I made that declaration, I no longer feel like condemning such movies outright.

Thoughtful, more cerebral films continue to be made, and as long as the amusement park ride is fun, which Jurassic World decidedly is, why should I complain?

Eyecatchers: 2015 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

NationalGeo12-croppedIf, like me, your family had a subscription to National Geographic Magazine when you were a kid, before you learned to love reading, one of the reasons you LOVED the publication was because you didn’t have to read the articles to learn amazing things about the world beyond your neighborhood, town, city, etc.

Reason: The photography was mind-blowing — pictures are worth a thousand words, as is often said — and one could dwell on these pictures, could dwell IN these pictures, could get lost in these pictures.

One of the most popular posts I’ve ever published here at Fish & Bicycles, from July 2012 and titled Eyecatchers: Steve McCurry’s World of Bicycles, featured the photography of one of the magazine’s most acclaimed photographers, and the images I included in that post serve as fine examples of how photography can tell us so much about a place and its people, people in places we’ve never been or may never visit.

In addition to teaching us so much about the planet we inhabit, National Geographic has inspired millions of people to try their own hand at photography, and a fitting testament to how inspirational the magazine has been to so many is their annual Travel Photo Contest, where anyone, amateur or pro, can submit photos for prize consideration.

This Eyecatchers installment, was inspired by a selection of 2015 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest entries handpicked by The Atlantic, and features my favorites from this selection. (Please be sure, though, to visit The Atlantic in order to read the very informative captions to each photo.)

If you’re busy and have a lot on your plate, you might want to consider setting a timer with a loud alarm, as I will not be held responsible for readers getting lost in these photos and losing track of time. 🙂

Enjoy!

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Lost & Found Dog & The Silliness Of Fighting Sentimentalism

zuki-paddenOver the past three years, I’ve posted an occasional photo of my dog Zuki to the Photoblog section here at Fish & Bicycles.

But one only has to spend a small amount of time surfing the millions of blogs on the interwebs to discover that there are people out there who seem to be far, FAR more into their dogs than I am, posting photos many times a week, of their canines doing every single thing you can imagine, as well as some things you’d like not to imagine, accompanied by reflections, observations, and aphorisms, dripping with sentimentalism.

Me: 9 photos posted in three years, mostly because, well, Zuki IS rather photogenic.

But does that really mean that I’m not THAT into my dog?

On Saturday, May 16th, as I’ve mentioned, my wife and I took off for a week-long vacation, for the first time not accompanied by our son, now 17-years of age.

On Friday, May 22nd, the day before we returned home, Zuki, who has a funny loose wire in the noggin, causing her to occasionally bolt away if she doesn’t have solid eye contact with either my wife, my son, or me, took off from a downtown location, only 2-3 miles from our home, but a 2-3 miles she’d never covered on foot before, on or off leash, a 2-3 miles that required crossing over or under Interstate 5 and several VERY busy surface streets.

The Humane Society was contacted daily, ads placed on Craigslist, posts posted to Facebook, streets, alleys, trails searched in as big of a radius as we could manage, a trail of urine and water solution sprayed from our house to the location where she was last seen, the needle eluding us in the haystack, dreams and nightmares invading sleep, thoughts of Zuki preventing sleep, late night departures from bed to check to see if, by some miracle, she had found her way home…

Eight days and nights elapsed, my wife finally had her biggest cry, coming to grips with the possibility that Zuki could be gone for good and that she could be lost, injured and in great distress, or dead, and then, at 4am, after waking from the latest of my dreams of Zuki’s return, I heard what sounded like a faint whine, I arose from bed and walked out into the house, gazed at the first glass door that, every night prior, had revealed nothing, but this time, there she was…

And when she spotted me in return, she bolted to the closer door, the front door to my left, I opened it, and she sped past me, running directly to our bedroom, where her dog bed sits at the foot of our human bed. My wife awoke and asked if it was the cat, I said no, it was Zuki, and in a wave of emotion, tears of joy and relief, Zuki was enveloped back into the family.

I never had a big cry, but I was very sad the whole week she was missing, my sleep was disturbed, I couldn’t imagine life without Zuki, nor replacing her. To say that I’m just not that into my dog is a lie. It’s just the silly, fairly common, though by no means universal, result of male conditioning, where it’s not considered macho or cool to get all mushy and sentimental over a dog.

So, I declare this day, that I am deeply grateful that Zuki miraculously found her way home, grateful that, while clearly shaken up, she survived the ordeal without any injury.

And I offcially embrace and declare my sentimental feelings for my dog, a true and beloved member of the family. 

Zuki, please, don’t run away again. Ok?

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Headline of the Day: Frog Porn

woodfrogI really don’t think that a person necessarily has to have some kind of kinky fetish in order to read today’s Headline of the Day and find that they can’t NOT read the article:

Wood Frog Mating Is A Wet, Competitive Orgy

THROB

Then again, if a person regularly reads a blog titled THROB — and really, I don’t, really, this post just came up in a news-reading app that I use! — which offers multiple posts about animal sex, maybe this person does have a kinky fetish.

I DON’T!!!

Regardless, in the event that you didn’t feel compelled to click on the link above and read the post, it really is a pretty straightforward biology lesson, however suggestive, with, um, juicy details like…

For a male the whole goal of this competition is to get on a female’s back and stay there. Hooking his arms under hers in a characteristic hold called “amplexus”, he may hang onto her for more than 24 hours, squirting out sperm as she lays an enormous mass of eggs.

Hmmmmm. Amplexus. Interesting!