Friday, August 12, 2005

Friday Frapp-Fueled Link-o-rama 

In celebration of all weekendish activities...

You can catch a previw of David Gray's upcoming album in a full-length concert on the NPR site. It's great music to finish the week up with... the 3rd song is particularly good (Please Forgive Me, from White Ladder), and the encore is good as usual. No "Babylon" though. Sad.

Been missing the Friday night new Battlestar Galacticas? For shame! Here's a few good sites, including reviews and spoilers of not just BSG but Star Trek, Farscape, Firefly, and a few other scifi faves.

Star Trek Hypertext - Jammer's Reviews (great graphics), includes all the ST series (including TOS) and movies, BSG, and Andromeda (not that anyone is looking for those reviews)

Sad Geezer's Guide to SciFi TV - pretty much every scifi tv show summarized and reviewed, including transcripts (the link is to BSG)

And, of course, don't forget Television Without Pity. If you do, they'll cry.

Speaking of favorite TV shows, one of the best cartoons had to be Garfield and Friends, with my favorite episode ever now out Season Two, available at They're working on getting all seven seasons of the show out. Seven!

Anyway, in the episode, "Video Airlines," Garfield and Jon turn on the TV only to find that "Kung Fu Creatures on the Rampage" is on nearly every channel (featuring the line "You! You're not Silvia! You're one of the Kung Fu Creatures on the Rampage!"). The video store has plenty of copies of... "You! You're not Silvia! You're one of the Kung Fu Creatures on the Rampage... TWO!!!", also available in Spanish, "Tu! Tu no eres Sylvia! Tu eres una de las criaturas de Kung Fu en rampaje - DOS!" That still cracks me up.

They head to the movies, walking miles and miles to find their theatre in the cineplex, only to sit down to "You! You're not Silvia! You're one of the Kung Fu Creatures on the Rampage... THREE!!!"

And let's not forget the similarly classic episode, "The Bunny Rabbits Is Coming!"

Another great TV show... Due South. Alliance is finally releasing the last season on DVD in September, and Paul Gross' dad (Bob) is making signed copies available at his book store's site, Badlands Books. You should get your copy there because, a) it's signed, b) there's a lot of cool dinosaur books on there too that Paul's mom wrote, and c) Bob's a nice guy. If you can't get to the site (sometimes it's down),
email him and request the DVDs.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Best of the Butterflies 2 

Here are a few more great pictures I got yesterday and today. Like I mentioned in 'Best of the Butterflies', the chrysalis turns dark right before the butterfly emerges, like this one I found this morning:

This will show you what you're looking at. They pull their legs up and push open that hatch (dotted line), crawling up out of the top:

And here he is a half-hour later (they always wait until I go inside to come out...thanks a lot, guys!):

You can see there isn't much to hold on to, so when a breeze blew through, he fell down into the irises and had to be rescued with a pine branch... he was just like that as a caterpillar, too. Some are more trouble than others:

Finally, yesterday's baby, resting on an African Iris seed pod. I spotted him immediately after he emerged, with his wings still wadded up like a walnut, tearing up the white tent pole at top speed to find a place to sit. Unfortunately, that early, pictures are hard to take because of low lighting. This was once the sun had risen.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Best of the Butterflies 

Each year I have a crop of black swallowtails in my garden (last year I did a day-by-day blog on their growth from an egg to butterfly), and I must have tons of rolls of film from them. Just when you think you've taken the best picture, they'll do something new. One I regret missing this year was the emergence of the second butterfly-- a snail had climbed up the African Iris frond it was drying itself on and craned its neck out to touch the butterfly. Sure that it was probably thinking, "What about their legs... they don't need their legs..." (LOTR), I knocked the snail off, and then thought, "Darn! My camera!"

Last year I found that I was losing quite a few caterpillars to storms and built up my arm muscles hauling the plant on and off the porch. That was way too much trouble and I almost lost the plant to aphids. This year, once I found eggs on the plant, I bought a beach tent from Target and put it up over the plant. I still brought in the eggs to hatch, and once the caterpillars were about an inch long, put them outside. That gives them a better chance against lizards, birds, and bigger caterpillars eating the branch out from under them.

Their palace:

Here are the best pictures I took from this month's bunch. I love how you can see the wrinkles on his paws in this one:

Here two big ones are eating flowers from the same spray:

Finally, they fought over the leftover branch:

Eventually the upset one climbed down to a branch below, sending the other one flinging backwards. This is a closeup of one eating the fronds:

On this one, I just loved the colors:

This one is ready to form its chrysalis. You can see the white frothy web its made as a base if you look closely at the leaf, as well as the silk hammock around its middle, which will stay in place when it changes into a chrysalis, and the web sticking its bottom to the plant.

This one has just climbed out of its chrysalis. You can still see the leftovers in the bottom of the casing--those all run to the bottom the morning the butterfly is ready to emerge, and you can see the wingspots through the chrysalis right before it breaks out.

The butterfly's body is swollen with liquid to help inflate its wings, so once they're fully unfurled, the butterfly has to squeeze out the extra liquid. Otherwise, it's too heavy to take off. Here you can see some of it next to the chrysalis.

I took this one this morning while it was deciding whether or not to take off:

This is the first butterfly of the season doing its run up the "runway":

And finally, a beautiful closeup of its wing from this morning, which I took doing a serious half moon pose to get to the back of the garden. Yowch!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

First Yoga Class Etiquette 

I've taken a few yoga classes over the last few years, and, after going through the process a couple of times, I have a few words of advice for people just starting a yoga class, whether they've never taken one at all or are just new to that class/instructor:

* One assumes that, by signing up for yoga, you generally know about it, much like you would if you signed up for any other fitness class. You've probably seen a little yoga on tv or in magazines, especially the basic moves. Yoga is about stretching, flexibility, and determination. Don't be surprised when it calls for that. Sun Salutation (see below) is a basic set of moves, not an attempt to kill you in the first class.

* If you are unable to do or hold a particular stance, whether it's too difficult or you're not flexible enough, it's perfectly ok not to do it, to do it as far or as long as you can and then stop, or to do an alternate move which the instructor will probably offer as a matter of course. Good alternatives are Mountain Pose, Downward-Facing Dog, Child's Pose, or Corpse Pose. If you focus on a controlled breath, you're still working out.

* Keep in mind that others may be more skilled than you, but it is a practice and you will get the hang of it. Even those people probably have a sticking point that challenges them and they are definitely not judging you. 3 years later, I still can't do a proper forward fold because of tight hamstrings and I probably never will, but I keep working on it.

* When choosing an outfit, keep stretch and comfort in mind, but also try to imagine what will happen if you have to turn upside down in it. If your shirt comes off or your shorts are too revealing, you'll need different clothes. This is true for women and men... running shorts are never a good idea (see Friends episode 3.13). This includes underwear--thongs do not cut it.

* Don't eat too close to class (2-3 hours before), but also don't starve yourself that day. If I haven't had enough sleep the night before or didn't eat lunch, 20 minutes of a 1 hour class is enough to do me in. You'll start shaking during balance poses and get upset with yourself, which defeats the point of class.

* You will probably be frustrated when you start, for at least a couple of months while your body gets used to the moves and the pace. Be patient with yourself and the teacher. However, after a while, if you find yourself more aggravated at the end of the class than before, try a different class or instructor.

* Yoga classes are peaceful and partially focused on meditation and overall balance, inner and outer. Try not to do anything that might ruin the practice for another person, such as breathing too loudly (it's not Lamaze), talking, leaving your phone on, etc.

* Unless the teacher is being unreasonable, do not protest or argue about a move. Unreasonable would be like requiring decidedly advanced moves in a beginning class or spending over half the class in an inversion or twisting set of moves. I have experienced those, and they are not pleasant. In that case, either return to a comfortable pose or leave quietly. If you must, shoot the instructor a dirty look and do your best. But do not loudly exclaim, "You've got to be kidding!!", burst out laughing, scoff, etc. It creates a bad environment for everyone else.

* Be aware of your state of body and mind before and during class. If you realize that you can't complete the class because you don't feel well or have your mind too muddled by something else, it is ok to quietly leave at any time. A headache will probably get worse, not better, due to increased bloodflow to the head. If you're thinking about too many other things, you will never make it through the balance portion of class.

* When you pick a spot in class for your mat (it really should be a mat, not a towel because they scoot and bunch up), take a reasonable amount of space for yourself (you should put your arms out and not touch the next person), but not too much, especially in a crowded class. Be mindful of those around you.

* Control your movements and don't overestimate your abilities. If you know you can't do a shoulder stand, don't attempt one in the middle of the classroom where you might fall, hit someone else, or disrupt class with your display. Don't fling your arms and legs around, and don't push yourself too far in the beginning of class so that you can't finish without falling over. It's not a race.

* Finally, the instructor may come around and assist people into the correct form of the pose. Don't be offended if it's you--without a mirror, it's nearly impossible to get every move exactly right, and you may not realize you can actually stretch a little bit deeper.

For more information, pose encyclopedia, advice, and more, visit

Sun Salutation



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