Thursday, November 01, 2012

Monsters, squirrels, silly me

Bits and pieces; some links, a busy squirrel, photo fixing, and more.

First, the links; interesting things I've seen these past couple of weeks:

Getting in the mood for Hallowe'en, Tim Eisele posted the story of a suicidal caterpillar, then followed up with an even more gruesome tale of a spider who ended up being prey rather than predator. Warning! Not for "sensitive souls". (We critter fans should have no problem with them.)

More "Ewwww" posts: Sea lice eat a dead pig, and "Is this fish evil?" An enquiry into the reasons for our shudders. From Deep Sea News.

Big and beautiful. Ted MacRae calls this a "Monster in the night", but he ends up taking it home as a pet for his daughter. If you skipped the last four links, this one is safe.

This I found fascinating; some land-based hermit crabs do more than just move into discarded shells that they find. Instead, they remodel them first, scraping them out for more room, and less weight, which gives them more speed without sacrificing the protection they need. From the BBC.

Great news! I and the Bird is back! And with a wonderful new format! Do you have posts to contribute? Go check out the new guidelines.

One more. This was really helpful, and has inspired me to take another look at some of my older photos. Ted MacRae takes an old, "crappy" (his word) photo of a beautiful beetle, applies his improved editing skills, and comes out with a decent photo. And don't miss Alex Wild's little fixes (in the comments) that turn it into a dazzling, shiny jewel.

I've picked out a few of my really old ones, and followed Ted's lead. One was the cat photo I posted a couple of days ago. Here's another: a terrible photo of a flatworm, very small, taken with one of my first cheap cameras; slightly unfocused, sprinkled with sand, and against a jumbled background. A few tweaks, and here's what I came up with.

Going places.

Not perfect, but passable. Looks like digging through those old files might be profitable.

Current events: here's a crappy photo which no amount of Photoshopping will fix. It's been a dreary, grey day, pouring rain and windy*. I was at my desk when rapid movement outside attracted my attention. Something was violently shaking a branch of the maple tree. Had to be a squirrel. I took a photo, without flash, through the window. Of course, the shutter was slow, and this is what the camera saw. (Still better than what I saw.)

A squirrel, all right. But what's he after?

He stopped suddenly, ran back up the branch and sat with his back to me. A minute later, he scrambled back down to the tip, and yanked at a winged seed, still not ready to fall and clinging tightly to its branch tip. The whole tree danced with their struggle, squirrel against seed. The squirrel won after a long tussle.

Remaining seeds, resting while the squirrel sits up-branch, eating the latest victim.

And, in the "Silly me" category:

In London Drugs this afternoon, I noticed some specialty reading glasses from Foster Grant, designed for working at a computer screen. They have an amber tint, that is supposed to
  • Reduce eye strain and improve contrast
  • Reduce blue light
  • Reduce glare
  • Reduce eye fatigue
Worth a try. And only $30. I bought a pair.

And they do help. The burning I've been feeling lately is gone, and my eyes aren't watering, even after a few hours on the computer.

So here I was editing photos, and the colours just wouldn't come out right. I clicked on areas that were supposed to be white, and they came out orangey. The greens were brown and muddy. I puzzled over those greens for a long while, then gave up and saved a photo as-is. Half-way through the next, I remembered those so-helpful glasses. I took them off, and -- it's miraculous! -- the photos fixed themselves instantly!


*And in spite of the stormy weather, the trick or treaters were out tonight, with big jackets over their costumes.


  1. Thanks for the links! I've been thinking over how it might be possible to do a grubectomy on a parasitized spider in the future. The real trick would probably be to find another one at the right stage. The Steatoda spiders are fairly common, so I suppose I could just start examining all the ones I find with a magnifying glass until another parasitized one turns up.

  2. Tim, I was thinking. If you find another parasitized spider, and could find some way to calm the spider down (wasn't there an experiment somewhere where they gave spiders caffeine and other drugs, and watched what they did? And another where they got fruit flies drunk, with no lasting damage to the fruit flies? Worth looking up.), then with a fine needle on a syringe, you could possibly aspirate some of the grubs innards, which should kill the grub but not the spider.

    Just a wild idea.


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