Past Macro Photography of Flowers and Insects

These are some of my favourite macro photos I have taken in the past using just a few macro-filters on top of a regular lens, not some special macro lens.

Aside from my excursion, I haven’t been too proactive to go hunting for good macro photos of nature. However, I have a few trips planned this summer already where I will get to see some interesting flowers, plants and hopefully, birds and insects up close.

I’ll also be better at cataloging what I photograph because some of these places have all their plants identified. The insects I’ll have to ask as I don’t have plans to be taking photos of insects pinned onto something. I’m also hoping to try some speed photography of humming birds as well.

If you know your flowers and insects, please do help me identify them by leaving a comment below. These were all taken in the Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick so that might help narrow some choices. Thank you.

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Bring the Mighty Uke Movie to Halifax!

I returned home today to a message from my friend Lis regarding The Mighty Uke Movie.

Well, that hit a note and struck a chord!

The ukulele

In the 1980s, the musical instrument of choice taught in the Halifax school system was the ukulele, led by Chalmers Doane. I was one of many many children who took it up and went through that program. It was my first instrument to music in Canada, and I progressed far enough to make the prestigious A Ukulele Group. That ukulele musical experience left me with many great memories. I remember a couple of thousand of us kids played for the newly wed Prince Charles and Lady Diana as they visited Halifax in 1983. When I was in grade 8, we had an exchange with an outstanding group in Langley, BC, which was my first trip really far away from home. There were lots of good times and rehearsals in between.

Now, as the trailer said, the ukulele is sometimes said to be perceived as being a bit of a joke. Well, anything is until a lot of people embrace it, and there seems to be that going on. Ironically, I had switched to guitar during those school years and now, though I can still do more on a ukulele than I’ll ever be able to do on a guitar. It’s just a lot more versatile being a smaller instrument for a little guy like me. However, I’m very much keen to take it up again seeing there’s a revolution going on. That F# string is going to make be say a few things starting with F#, though, I’m sure, given it’s a semi-tone off from the G-string on the guitar while the strings surrounding it are the same. But I’ve got a lot of muscle memory left. I can still do the Jazz Pizzicato riff as well as ever.

But in case you think the ukulele is a joke, have a listen to a couple of pieces below. The first is the late Israel Kamakawio’ole playing Somewhere Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World like you had never heard it before him. Nice and simple, but just gorgeous.

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But for those of you who needs a little virtuosity in an instrument to prove its worth to you, check out this Jake Shimabukuro guy playing an instrumental While My Guitar Gently Weeps of George Harrison fame. Yowza!

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Or try the MUCH cuter version! WHO IS this kid???

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My ukuleles might have been put away, but they are coming back out! That’s right. That’d be plural! Cause like pistols, a real man carries two!

The Might Uke Movie is making its Toronto premiere soon. I hope they will bring it to Halifax! They had better!

Check out ukuleledisco.com for some good, bad and ugly ukulele performances!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 6.8

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What’s Your Song of Comfort? (Part 3 of 7 on The World in Six Songs)

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Book and Theory Background

Daniel J. Levitin wrote an absolutely brilliant book called The World in Six Songs, supported by a great website with the many music samples referenced, among other great related material.

My basic paraphrasing of the concept is this. All the songs in the world could be fit into at least one of six categories providing an evolutionary benefit to humanity, often ultimately tied to our social nature.

The book and website offer far more detailed interpretations, of course, but I will expand on my paraphrasing with each post and the associated topic.

Daniel J. Levitin and The World in Six SongsIn a series of posts, I will describe each of the six categories in brief, one at a time:

  1. Friendship
  2. Joy
  3. Comfort
  4. Knowledge
  5. Religion
  6. Love

I will describe what the categories are about because they are not as limited in scope as the category names suggest. I will then supply one of my choices and ask all readers to do the same if they so wish. In the seventh post of the series, I will offer the chance to put the song choices all together so readers can read the entire set on one post. I do this because it would be a long post to describe all six categories at once, but to have all the answers in one place might be nice.

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This post focuses on Songs of Comfort

July 30th add-on in italics, from Dan Levitin in a summary article
This category of song provides comfort in times of loneliness, stress or heartbreak, along with the classic comfort song, the lullaby. Music written about loneliness and stress can provide us with comfort by assuring us we are  not alone in our grief or misery, aiding the recovery process. Lullabies mutually calm mother and child, and may release prolactin, while at the same time providing a bond between the two, which is beneficial for the child.

These songs make us feel more comfortable, whether by easing us into more comfort or relieving us of discomfort. Often, it is the latter, and often through letting us know we are not alone in whatever predicament the songs are trying to relieve us of, that we have a place in the greater whole. Sometimes, songs of Comfort may overlap with Friendship / Bonding category, but should only be considered as such if they were also motivating one to bond or forge direct relationship. If one truly wanted to fit a song into only one category, should the encouragement to bond be present, then consider the song a Friendship / Bonding song, not a comfort song. Encouragement to bond in a way related to “love” will be dealt with later but that also trumps the Comfort category if there were two possibilities and one only wanted to fit a song into solely one category.

Sad songs are the most common form of Comfort songs, but so are lullabies and blues. Comfort songs’ benefit to our evolution is that they cause the release of prolactin, a tranquilizing hormone that comforts us, among many other purposes. Obviously, comfort during times of stress, or even just more comfort in good times, benefits our survival.

Audio sample of songs from the Comfort chapter in The World in Six Songs can be found on the website. No direct link was available, but click on the Songs menu option and appropriate page number range link carrying pages 111 to 136. Please note that not all songs are meant as samples of Comfort songs. Some are just referenced material in the book text.

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Author Daniel Levitin chose

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My choice for Song of Comfort is

Solitude, as sung by Billie Holiday (lyrics).

Written by Eddie Delange, Irving Mills, Duke Ellington, this bluesy jazz standard talks about a person in solitude longing for her (or his) lover who has left her/him. However, because the singer sings it like it’s happening to her, the listener regards it as someone else going through the same situation. As for my insistence upon the Billie Holiday version, well, let’s just say there’s nobody who knows how to make a song sadder than Billie. She’s got an album titled Lady Sings the Blues, for which she wrote the title track, for a very good reason. I could actually listen to any Billie Holiday song, sad or happy, and I would feel better if I were feeling sad. She’s got that “honest signal” quality in her singing to persuade the listener she knows what she’s talking about rather than faking it. “Honest signal” is discussed by Daniel Levitin in the Love chapter as being regarded as superior to speech because it is more challenging to fake singing an emotion than talking about it.

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What is your choice for Song of Comfort?

Please leave your choice as a comment.

Lyrics and YouTube/audio link would greatly enhance your answer so readers can know more about your choice. They are not necessary, though, and not possible if no lyrics or version exist.

You can include songs you wrote as a choice, too!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 10.1

What’s Your Song of Joy? (Part 2 of 7 on The World in Six Songs)

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.

Book and Theory Background

Daniel J. Levitin wrote an absolutely brilliant book called The World in Six Songs, supported by a great website with the many music samples referenced, among other great related material.

My basic paraphrasing of the concept is this. All the songs in the world could be fit into at least one of six categories providing an evolutionary benefit to humanity, often ultimately tied to our social nature.

The book and website offer far more detailed interpretations, of course, but I will expand on my paraphrasing with each post and the associated topic.

Daniel J. Levitin and The World in Six SongsIn a series of posts, I will describe each of the six categories in brief, one at a time:

  1. Friendship
  2. Joy
  3. Comfort
  4. Knowledge
  5. Religion
  6. Love

I will describe what the categories are about because they are not as limited in scope as the category names suggest. I will then supply one of my choices and ask all readers to do the same if they so wish. In the seventh post of the series, I will offer the chance to put the song choices all together so readers can read the entire set on one post. I do this because it would be a long post to describe all six categories at once, but to have all the answers in one place might be nice.

.

This post focuses on Songs of Joy

July 30th add-on in italics, from Dan Levitin in a summary article
Joy songs are associated with celebration, moments that inspire people to sing, jump, dance and shout. It has been shown that singing releases oxytocin (the hormone released during orgasm), and music listening releases serotonin (a mood-regulating neurotransmitter commonly used in antidepressants). The positive effect of singing or listening to music has also been found to have a positive effect on the immune system, which creates an evolutionary advantage.

These songs celebrate something and reward us for actions that benefit our survival so we would do it again to further improved the odds. “Rewards” are in terms of brain chemicals like oxytocin and serotonin, we naturally release when we feel happy or having performed acts which make us happy. Rewards could also come in reductions of chemicals which do not make us happy, like cortisol and prolactin, which may lead to actions the reduce our chances of survival like violence, reduced physical growth, depression, etc. Additional action of celebration benefits us in a wide range of ways, from the seemingly trivial to the more internal and less visible, like:

  • Dancing, stretching, jumping or other natural movements to music which are good for our physical well-being;
  • True emotions, which arise out of benefiting our survival.

In a fascinating argument which I buy into, Daniel Levitin argues that emotions like jealousy are not “true” emotions. Rather, they are “adaptations” to adversity to minimize harm rather than directly benefiting our survival directly. They do not “reward” us in the sense of making us want to repeat actions over and over to benefit our survival. Daniel didn’t say the latter, stating nature does not build systems which defeats itself. However, in trying to keep things simple, that was my conclusion. No doubt, while there are insecure people jealous of everyone else for any number of reasons, most of us would readily admit we could do without jealousy in our lives if we could.

We possess the reward systems of joy today because those of us who enjoyed music of joy, like any of the other categories, were the ones who survived to successfully pass on the genes that allow us to enjoy such music.

As an additional point, Daniel Levitin did not address funny songs in his book. At least I didn’t find anything obvious. One could easily argue that they fall under songs of Friendship because laughing together promotes stronger relationship. I, for one, totally believe that as a major icebreaker to break cultural barriers, to me, is if you can learn to laugh at yourselves and then at each other. But even more, I believe in that anecdote that laughter is the best medicine, and as a result, laughing is good for survival and evolution. So if songs of Joy rewards us for things we should try to do more and more of, songs that makes us laugh should fall here.

Audio sample of songs from the Joy chapter in The World in Six Songs can be found on the website. No direct link was available, but click on the Songs menu option and appropriate page number range link carrying pages 83 to 110. Please note that not all songs are meant as samples of Joy songs. Some are just referenced material in the book text.

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Author Daniel Levitin choose

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My choice for Song of Joy is

Walking on Sunshine, an 80s tune by Katrina and the Waves (lyrics).

It is a joyful song, for sure, and one that definitely makes me want to get out of my seat and dance. I’m standing over the keyboard dancing right now as I’ve got the YouTube version playing to get the link for it! However, this is by no means a definitive choice for me. I can’t say songs of Joy are among the most prominent songs on my mind. I’ve got tons of them as it makes it easier to become happy that way, but in terms of distinctive favourites, none grabs me enough to say “yeah, that’s the one!”

Now, if you’re talking songs of Joy as in humour, my choice would be Nellie McKay‘s Clonie (partial lyrics). Good songs of humour are rare for me, but this one does the job well. I love a lot of her witty, funny and charming music, which I only discovered recently.

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What is your choice for Song of Joy?

Please leave it as a comment.

Lyrics and YouTube/audio link would greatly enhance your answer so readers can know more about your choice. They are not necessary, though, and not possible if no lyrics or version exist.

You can include songs you wrote as a choice, too!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 11.0

Sailor Moon Facebook Friends Tagging Meme and Wallpaper

Below are eight Facebook friends tagging meme picture of Sailor Moon characters. Is that enough for you Sailor Moon fans? 🙂

It starts with the basic, then gets into the two Good Senshi sets, then triple villains set because there were so many! In fact, if you think you know your Sailor Moon well, why don’t you test yourself to see if you can name all the characters without looking too much at the answers provided!

Credits to Simsim2212 on Deviant Art for some of the artwork and information. I had to do a fair bit of cutting, colourizing and other touch-ups on the artwork myself, though, to turn it into what you see here. As for the information, I hope Simsim2212 got it right, and that I transposed it correctly, because aside from the basic characters I researched, I know nothing of Sailor Moon other than that it is popular!

At the end is a wallpaper for a 1280 x 960 pixel or 1024 x 768 pixel monitor. Again, I did some Photoshop magic to make it the quality it is at.

If you would like to use any of the pictures below, please:

  • Click on the picture you want below to get it at full size.
  • Right click on that picture and save to your computer.
  • Upload it to your Facebook profile (the wallpaper you’ll have to get someone to help you if you don’t know how to set it as your background).
  • Tag your friends.

Please click here for a complete list of over 100 Facebook picture tagging memes on this site with which you can use for fun with your friends.

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Below are a list of characters in some of these memes. Since I have put the memes into the gallery thumbnails, so they’d load faster for viewers just having a look, the order has been mixed up and I don’t know which set go with which meme any more. But I’m sure the Sailor Moon fans who use these memes will, so I’ll leave it up to them. 🙂

Row 1
Sailor Mercury – Inner Senshi, Sailor Mars – Inner Senshi, Sailor Jupiter – Inner Senshi, Sailor Venus – Inner Senshi, Luna – Moon Guardian

Row 2
Sailor Pluto – Outer Senshi, Sailor Uranus – Outer Senshi, Sailor Neptune – Outer Senshi, Sailor Saturn – Outer Senshi, Artemis – Moon Guardian

Row 3
Sailor Kakkyou – Starlight Senshi, Sailor Star Fighter – Starlight Senshi, Sailor Star Healer – Starlight Senshi, Sailor Star Maker – Starlight Senshi, Diana – Moon Guardian

Row 1
Sailor Pallas – Asteroid Senshi, Sailor Vesta – Asteroid Senshi, Sailor Juno – Asteroid Senshi. Sailor Cere – Asteroid Senshi, Phobos – Mars Guardian

Row 2
Jadeite – Earth Shitennou, Nephrite – Earth Shitennou, Zoisite – Earth Shitennou, Kunzite – Earth Shitennou, Deimos – Mars Guardian

Row 3
Tuxedo Kamen – Master of Shitennou, Sailor Moon – Master of Inner and Outer Senshi, Sailor Chibichibi – Sailor Cosmos, Sailor Chibiusa – Master of Asteroid Senshi, Helios – Sun Guardian

Column 1 (left side, from top to bottom)
Queen Beryl – Dark Kingdom, Jadeite (Shitennou) – Dark Kingdom, Nephrite (Shitennou) – Dark Kingdom

Column 2
Rubeus – Black Moon Clan, Petz (Ayakashi Sisters) – Black Moon Clan, Calaveras (Ayakashi Sisters) – Black Moon Clan

Column 3
Esmeraude – Black Moon Clan, Achiral (Boule Brothers) – Black Moon Clan, Chiral (Boule Brothers) – Black Moon Clan

Column 4
Tellu (Witches 5) – Death Buster, Mimete (Witches 5) – Death Buster, Eudial (Witches 5) – Death Buster

Column 5
Viluy (Witches 5) – Death Buster, Cyprine (Witches 5) – Death Buster, Ptilol (Witches 5) – Death Buster

Column 1 (left side, from top to bottom)
Zoisite (Shitennou) – Dark Kingdom, Kunzite (Shitennou) – Dark Kingdom, Al – Alien

Column 2
Berthier (Ayakashi Sisters) – Black Moon Clan, Cooan (Ayakashi Sisters) – Black Moon Clan, An – Alien

Column 3
Black Lady – Black Moon Clan, Saphir – Black Moon Clan, Demand – Black Moon Clan

Column 4
Tomoe – Death Buster, Kaolinite – Death Buster, Wiseman – Black Moon Clan

Column 5
Mistress 9 – Death Buster, Zirconia – Death Moon Circus, Tiger’s Eye (Amazon Trio) – Death Moon Circus

Column 1 (left side, from top to bottom)
Cere Cere (Amazon Quartet) – Death Moon Circus, Hawk’s Eye (Amazon Trio) – Death Moon Circus, Fish’s Eye (Amazon Trio) – Death Moon Circus

Column 2
Sailor Tin Nyanko – Sailor Animates, Sailor Aluminum Seiren – Sailor Animates, Sailor Lead Crow – Sailor Animates

Column 3
Sailor Phi – Sailor Animates, Sailor Chi – Sailor Animates, Sailor Heavy Metal Papillon – Sailor Animates

Column 4
Sailor Chaos – THE EVIL!!!, Sailor Lethe – Sailor Animates, Sailor Mnemosyne – Sailor Animates

Column 5
Queen Nehellenia – Death Moon Circus, Sailor Galaxia – Sailor Animates, Sailor Iron Mouse – Sailor Animates

Column 6
Ves Ves (Amazon Quartet) – Death Moon Circus, Jun Jun (Amazon Quartet) – Death Moon Circus, Para Para (Amazon Quartet) – Death Moon Circus