Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bike ride in the sunset, work on the web

It hasn't rained for the past two days, and I took my bike out just before sundown and rode the River Walk past Safeway to the East Mooring Basin and onto the paved jetty, a great place to get some extra distance. The River Walk is beautiful, but seems so short on a bike. In the next couple of years, so I've heard, the city will extend it to Tongue Point. I hope so. There were six or seven ships just lolling about on the river today. They don't usually move much on Sundays. Here is one silhouhetted against the Astoria-Megler bridge, our 4-mile connection to Washington state.

I spent most of the day working on my web site - on the parts I don't have time for during the week, when web work is really about work. I added the rest of my blog links to the Tapirback main page, and I tried to address the sea lion issue in my photo section. I've had the page up since last October, but I could never find the pix on Google's image search. I thought, "Well, there are just that many sea lion pictures online (and there are), but exact quotes didn't bring up the page, so I checked and it wasn't indexed, I don't know why. I took out some code that may have been a problem on two of my non-indexed pages, but that same code didn't appear on a third non-indexed page. I don't know what the deal is, since the site has about 1,400 indexed pages, or if taking out that code will make a difference. Other pages in the same section are in Google's index. Besides the sea lions, the other two that weren't were pictures of the Arc de Triomphe and a page called Paris, Here and There. I redesigned the tops of the pages and made better navigation. Now time and the Googlebot will tell if it helped. I have so many pictures I want to put up that every bit I do on the basic structure will make it easier to be productive in the future. I started the section in about 1996, and several incarnations of the format and structure are still apparent. I guess that's the nature of an organic web site. Building one (and rebuilding and rebuilding it) is interesting (and fun), not the least of the reasons being the organizational challenge. I took a few minutes to dramatize the lead-in page from the Journey of Wandering Paths, which was pale and boring. Originally this section was supposed to be huge, but it fizzled out at 48 pages and now many of them look outdated to me. I still love the idea of combining art (mainly collage) and words into a bigger digital collage all linked together like a snarl of wires. Each page became a design project back in the 1990s, and it was fun. Maybe someday I'll get back to it. One of the next rehabs has got to be The Tapir Gallery (online since March 15, 1996, partly revised and partly original). And, I'll continue working on the photo section of the site. It's one of my dreams to expand the photo segment to HUGE. On a daily basis, Tapir and Friends Wildlife World Gift Shop gets a lot of attention, but it, too, can use some design and clean-up. Lee has been a tremendous help on the gift shop site the past six months.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Eclipse of the Moon from Astoria, Oregon

In the beginning . . . tree branches in the night. When the room is dark and I haven't cropped the picture you can see more branches and some heavy equipment in corrosion-proof green. It's nice and atmospheric. I was over by Pier 39 near the gym in the dead end of the street. The last lunar eclipse seen from here was at 3 or 4 in the morning. This one behaved better and occurred in the evening while I was still awake (from about 5:45 until fully in shadow around 7:00 pm or so).

Photos by Sheryl Todd, February 20, 2008

For a really nice photo of the eclipse, see this one.

Monday, February 18, 2008

We found a stuffed pig, and . . .

Stuffed warty pig

Lee and I were at the Oregon Zoo yesterday and saw some very cool animals, including Vasayan warty pigs from the Philippines and two young babirusas from Indonesia. We always check out the gift shop, and I fell in love with this beautiful stuffed pig. Lee bought it for me, and we talked about getting some for my online gift shop. It's interesting to look at the stuffed animals in comparison to the real Vasayan warty pigs we saw yesterday.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Vasayan warty pigs at the Oregon Zoo

I'm starting with two portraits. The one above is my favorite, because of the wonderfully expressive eye and the telltale dirt on its nose. (Please click on the picture for a better view, then use your Back button to return.) But the next pig portrait is more resplendent, showing the gorgeous mane. Too bad I didn't get the top picture framed as nicely as the bottom one.

Below is the pig family. Again you can see the expressive eyes, especially of the one in front (you really will have to click the photo to see this).

Finally, I included the picture below because it's the only one I got of the male showing his tusk. The hair is not bad, either.

Follow this link to the stuffed version of these pigs. It's a beautiful animal. Althought the coloring is inexplicably different from live warty pigs, it is totally charming and artistic. The red coloring is luscious, and the ivory-colored tusk is the icing on the cake.

If you like these pigs (and who wouldn't), please come see the babirusas on this blog.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Babirusa Brothers at the Oregon Zoo

Photos by Sheryl Todd
Click on any picture to enlarge

What a treat it was to visit the Oregon Zoo in Portland and see their two young babirusas up close and active. Lee had seen something about these unusual pig-family members on TV, and then coincidentally read that some had recently come to our nearest zoo. We had to see them.

We thought we were out of luck when the day, predicted to be warm and sunny, was instead overcast and cold. We thought the babirusas would stay in their warm den, but one of the zoo guides told us they'd been out a few minutes before, so we stuck around. Sure enough, they emerged. First one of the two young brothers came out and strode through the yard and returned to shelter. Then they both emerged, ready for play. They chased each other back and around, one pinned the other on the ground in something like a wrestling move, and then both trotted into the water and climbed back out. They went inside their den, re-emerged, and started again. The pigs seemd affectionate and playful, and were a joy to watch. We felt ourselves lucky. They of course reminded me of tapirs, to which they are not closely related except that all have hooves. Still, their movements were reminiscent. Unlike most pigs, babirusas do not root, but eat leaves, like tapirs.

Signs at the zoo show the tusks of an adult babirusa and show their origin on the island of Sulawesi (formerly Celebes) in Indonesia. As with so many wild animals, babirusas are under threat from humans. Check them out on Google's search. There are a number of excellent sites with photos and descriptions. Until today I didn't know babirusas were so interesting or CUTE (unlike the drawing below, which makes them look like something deformed from outer space - sorry, but I don't think the picture does them justice!).

Click the photo to read the text

Babirusa links I especially like are: The St. Louis Zoo, Wallacea (nice photo), Wikipedia, and some videos. Especially don't miss this this video from the Oregon Zoo! Also check out Ultimate Ungulate for the babirusa's family tree. Here's another good link I just found.

Next door to the babirusas were some ultra cool Vasayan warty pigs from the Philippines. They ended up on one of my other blogs.

One More Picture of the Babirusa

There's not much more to say. I love these pigs! See the post above for the full story. . . .

Dr. Bernice Jameson Todd Elementary School

Kathy Rodriguez took this photo. Bernice was our grandmother on Dad's side. Here is a link to the Dr. Bernice Jameson Todd Elementary School web site. Turn the sound down unless you like digital chattering toucans. Otherwise, it's a pretty web site and it has a link to some information about her life and the reason they named a school in her honor.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Posts and plugs

A couple of days ago I started a blog about my father. It started with a post on the Tapir Preservation Fund blog about the sad and untimely death of Nico van Strien. You can read the post. While writing it, I began thinking of my father. My dad's birthday was a couple of weeks ago, and the anniversary of his death is coming soon. The one post led into the other thought, and then I wanted to make a blog in honor of my father. After his death, I intended to collect some material about his life and put it into notebooks for some of the family. I bought the notebooks, collected a couple of things, and got sidetracked. Then I moved. At the moment, I can't find the original collection of things. They aren't gone, they just haven't been found yet.

It's been a busy couple of years. It's time to find my other creative side again (the more personal art, writing, and synthesizing) and play with some of the less-work-related projects I enjoy. I can't really say non-work related, because for the past 11 years tapirs have been my work. They are still a passion and part of my fun, but I need to approach them again from another angle. Ideas are beginning to flow again. That's good.

Oh, and here are the plugs. One of the things I was thinking about was using CafePress for some of my art ideas (and for the tapirs). This came about after a discussion of using that site to sell tapir items for World Tapir Day. Anthony from Australia and Kendra from the US brought up the idea, I checked it out and liked what I saw - for myself as well as for the tapirs. So I was talking with my brother (Gary Todd), who was also needing to find an outlet in something besides work, and he put up a couple of products while I was still noodling around with research and thinking. I especially love his "Corporate Helpers" slogan. It's subtle. One of the jokes is, he IS from Corporate and he has been travelling to the satellite companies. But he gets it. He's got a few more, too, and I hope they sell. That would be fun. [Edited March 2, 2008: Another favorite is Buzzword Bingo. Follow the same link to his store.]

Monday, February 04, 2008

Famous ship size optical illusion, Astoria, Oregon

This is typical, and yet always surprising. You're looking down the street when a ship passes town on the river, and - wow - it look like THIS time the ship is so much closer to the docks. You wonder what's up. Why is the ship nearly in your lap? Nearly on the streets of town? But no, it's actually an illusion. We get used to it, but it continues to amaze. So I'm walking down the street when I see the ship, and I think, "I'll get a photo of the illusion this time." You can see I'm crossing the street one short block from the water by the time I get my camera out of my backpack. First shot. The ship looks only a few yards from the buildings.

I step up on the curb out of the street and take a second shot. The ship still looks big and quite close. Then I begin walking fast toward the boardwalk to get another photo quickly before the ship goes too far up river, but I need to get close enough to the water so my sight line has cleared the buildings. Watch what happens. . . .

Huh? Honest. I didn't fix anything and there are no tricks here. As soon as the ship clears the buildings relative to the viewer's sight-line, everything changes. I haven't moved to a new position, and I didn't wait for the ship to move away from us. Yeah, it's turning a bit north into the river and away from us now. It makes a little difference, but not nearly as much as it appears. It's truly an optical illusion. If I had run at full speed straight onto the boardwalk when I first saw the ship, it would be the same. I'll try to get more of these on "film." They're fun. Usually I'm in my car driving when I notice them and I can't get the photo.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

At the Astoria Column, Astoria, Oregon

This is Youngs River seen from ground level at the Astoria Column. I like how open the veiw is with the pastel colors. And the spelling of "Youngs" is right. I don't know why I has no apostrophe.

Here's a boat made by the local Indians. I'll have to go back and read the plaque so I can say more about it.

Turning northwest, this is the Columbia River looking toward the mouth. The Astoria-Megler bridge stretches the four-point-something miles to Washington. The column is a favorite walk from town for a lot of locals and probably for tourists as well.

A beautiful rainbow shows itself for a moment over the Columbia. Weather can come and go so quickly. Rainbows over the water are not unusual, but they're always a surprising treat.

Here's the column itself at the top of the hill where the previous pictures were taken.

And this is the top of the column. I wish I hadn't cut off the spire, but it's still a nice photo - nice colors.

The Peter Iredale lies like the bones of a monster snake

The wreck of the Peter Iredale on the beach at Warrenton, Oregon. Obviously, an incredibly beautiful day. I've got more pix of the Peter Iredale on this blog and in one of my web albums.