Monthly Archives: February 2016

Eye Candy and Soul Respite 1

I’m exhausted. And a bit distraught. Some scumbag stole 2 of the Refuge’s dogs on Wednesday evening, and we’re still trying to find them and get them returned to us. Staff are upset. Volunteers are upset. Everything seems out of kilter. We just want the dogs back safe and sound.

So, these next few days, until things get back to normal, I’m only posting images of beautiful places, animals and things, from my Pinterest boards. Just to remind myself, and you, that such innocent pleasures still do exist in this evil world we live in.

Thank you for your patience. Have a good weekend!

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Does your dog understand what you’re saying?

Dogs may not understand if we are speaking English or Urdu, and certainly are unable to speak like humans, as they lack the physical and mental (Broca’s brain) components for speech. Through repetition and praise, though, dogs can learn the meanings of the words humans speak. Some very clever dogs have a vocabulary of over 300 English words, though the “average” dog is able to understand around 165 words (http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/how-many-words-do-dogs-know/). The current record holder for smartest dog, according to Dr Stanley Coren, renowned expert in canine intelligence, is Chaser, who has a whopping vocabulary of 1022 words.

When we speak, our voices change according to how we’re emoting. If we’re angry, we tend to raise our voice, or go really low and almost inaudible. If we’re happy, we sound chirpy and enthusiastic. If we’re sad, our voice may tremble or we may choke on our words. Dogs are very good at picking up on these secondary language signals. And they seem to know when their owners need their comforting presence.

Our body language also speaks volumes to dogs. We don’t have to say anything, but a dog can pick up on whether we’re sad (hunched shoulders, curled up in a foetal position), angry (standing straight, tight faced, arms akimbo), happy (open-armed, light steps, dancing), etc. A dog can pick up on exactly how a human being is feeling and even what his intentions are, even if the human is pretending to be otherwise. For example, if you were angry at your dog because he went on your favourite sofa, but you tried to pretend that you weren’t angry, so you could get your dog to come to you and then berate him for his misdemeanour – you may be calling his name in the sweetest of tones, and enticing him with treats, but your body language still reads “Angry, May Become Violent, Stay Out Of The Way” to the dog. And that is why he won’t come to you.

So, the next time you speak to your dog, observe your own body language at the same time as you speak. You’ll be surprised at just how well your dog is able to “read” you and respond accordingly. He doesn’t really need language to understand you. Humans, on the other hand, tend to become encumbered by language barriers between different cultures, or even within the same culture – to the extent that miscommunications happen all the time, even between two people speaking the exact same language. In some cultures, people also tend to hide their body language behind clothing, and to keep their gestures to a minimum, or, conversely, gesticulate wildly…this is likely to confuse dogs.

Remember, always, always use positive reinforcement techniques for teaching your dog anything. And never, ever hit your dog, because that only destroys any trust you’ve built up with it, and you’ll be hard pressed to start all over again.

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(Image source: Google Images)

Artist Inspiration : Zaria Forman

I came across Zaria Forman’s artwork while surfing on Pinterest, and was immediately captivated by her large-scale paintings of icebergs. They looked so photorealistic, almost touchable, nearly 3-dimensional. Hard to believe they are done using pastels.

Zaria Forman’s work is not just Art, it’s also a clarion call for us to pay attention to the issue of climate change. We need to take care of Mother Nature now, each and every one of us, otherwise all those beautiful icebergs will be no more in as little as our grandchildren’s time. And the sea levels will rise, resulting in permanent cataclysmic environmental changes and natural disasters. A truly frightening prospect.

This is Zara Forman’s own blurb from her website:

The inspiration for Forman’s drawings began in early childhood when she traveled with her family throughout several of the world’s most remote landscapes, which were the subject of her mother’s fine art photography. Forman was born in South Natick, Massachusetts and currently works and resides in Brooklyn, New York. She studied at the Student Art Centers International in Florence, Italy and received a BS in Studio Arts at Skidmore College in New York. Forman’s works have been in publications such as Juxtapoz Magazine, National Geographic Magazine, Huffington Post, and the Smithsonian Magazine. Zaria was featured on Good Day New York, Fox News, and interviewed by Lucy Yang on ABC7 Eyewitness News.

Recent achievements include participation in Banksy’s Dismaland, speaking at a live TED event at the Town Hall Theater in NYC, and a solo exhibition at Winston Wächter Fine Art in New York in September and October of 2015. Her drawings have been used in the set design for the Netflix TV series House of Cards.

In August 2012 Forman led Chasing the Light, an expedition sailing up the NW coast of Greenland, retracing the 1869 journey of American painter William Bradford and documenting the rapidly changing arctic landscape. Continuing to address climate change in her work, Forman traveled multiple times to the Maldives, the lowest-lying country in the world, and arguably the most vulnerable to rising sea levels.

Forman has been invited aboard the National Geographic Explorer as an artist-in-residence this coming November and December, traveling to Antarctica. Her next solo show will take place at Winston Wächter Fine Art’s Seattle location, in February and March of 2017.

Here are my favourite paintings by Zaria Forman, curated from Google Images:

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The artist herself at work:

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Stitched

Just some digital mobile photography artwork I created a while back. The originals were too intricate to show here, they’re quite large and these are just close-ups. I think I might submit them to my Licensing Agent for distribution.

Enjoy!

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Chinese New Year Lion Dance – Perth

Jack and I went to the city this weekend, to catch a Chinese Lion Dance performance. Chinese New Year Day itself was on the 8th of February, however the celebrations continue for 15 days. This year, Chinese New Year coincides with the month-long Perth Fringe Festival, so by default, any celebrations and festivities in relation to Chinese New Year became part of the whole picture forming the Perth cultural landscape for February.

The Yao Lin troupe were performing at Carillon City shopping mall. We managed to catch up with them just as they began their performance.

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Elizabeth Quay – completing a previous photowalk

A couple of weeks ago, I took some photos of Elizabeth Quay – the scenery, landmarks, sculptures and the bridge, and wrote about it here.

Last weekend, I paid a 2nd visit to Elizabeth Quay, to finish off the photowalk I didn’t quite manage last time, as my mobile phone’s battery went kaput halfway through.

Here’s the rest of Elizabeth Quay.

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Dog Noses

Did you know that dog noses are as individual as human fingerprints? That no two dogs have the exact same pattern of cracks and crevasses on their nose? That, just like how the Police are able to identify a person through their prints, so are dogs distinguishable from each other through their nose patterns. Strange, but true.

Did you know also that dogs are able to control either side of their nostrils independently? Ever wondered why they have those “cut-away” parts or slits on the sides of their nostrils? Those are to help the dog stir up more air particles so that whatever it’s sniffing, the scent and much more information about the object can be relayed to the dog’s brain. Humans can flare their nostrils to help them smell something, or, in some cultures, to look fierce. Dogs, on the other hand, do it with far more style and look far cuter.

Think you have a good sense of smell? Think again. Dogs are far superior to humans in that department. Your dog may well be able to literally smell you from a mile away. Awesome ability, that! No, not your smelliness.

Yes, doggy noses look weird, and can bear a remarkable similarity to black truffles. I find them fascinating 😄.

Anyway, here’s a line up of my favourite dog noses, curated from Google Images. A word of warning – the more you look at them, the funnier they get.

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