Thursday, July 31, 2014

Some New Definitives

Working on my latest issue of Earth Stamps. These are my second set of Definitives. Definitives are stamps that come in lower denominations of cost to be used to supplement regular issue stamps. My previous collection features National Parks from around the world. This set will feature examples of world Architecture. The stamps are the first of mine to be designed to be sold in roles. They will be sold in roles of 1,000, 100, 50, and strips of 25, 10 and 5. They will be issued in amounts of 1 to 20¢, and then in various amounts there after for a total number of issues up to 40 unique issues. Here are the first three:

1¢ - Burj al Arab Hotel - UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
2¢ - Mont Saint-Michel - FRANCE
5¢ - Sydney Opera House - AUSTRALIA

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Late July Placard Wisdom

From the Placard in the park.

Good Idea

Lego: Mont Saint-Michel

Love it!

What I'm Reading #69

I've just finished a lovely little book on the religious beliefs of 10 of our found fathers: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Paine, James Monroe, James Madison, John Jay, Elias Boudinot, and Sam Adams.  It also goes into some detail regarding the religious views of colonial women and the wives, daughters and step-daughters of some of these men.  Furthermore, there is are chapters dedicated to the general condition of religion in the colonial period, it's manifestations in the colonies circa 1770 and in particular explorations on the tenants and divergences of Deist theology versus orthodox Christianity and the Great awaken revivals of the time period.  So many enlightening ideas.

Four things I really enjoyed: 1) A nice overview of the state of Christian and Jewish faith in American c. 1770, 2) An especially nice and honest assessment of Maryland's "Toleration Act," 3) An appalling recounting of the lies Evangelicals told and propagated about George Washington's religious views and practices by people who had never, ever met the man and in full opposition to the repudiation of his adopted granddaughter, and various bishops and priest in whose churches he actually attended service. What is it in the psyche of the Evangelist that drives them to twist the truth in order to score points and justify their point of view? And 4) I LOVE Thomas Paine! I love that he emigrated to America at the invitation of Benjamin Franklin, that he went to France during their bloody revolution and nearly got his head guillotined, but was rescued by James Monroe before he was president and while he was America's ambassador to Paris. What an amazing life! And the things he wrote about religion warmed the cockles of my heart.

Amazing Animal Stamps: Leopard

Thirteenth in a series that has thus far celebrated the beauty of various species within the common categories of: Bears, Buntings, Dragonflies, Elephants, Foxes, Giraffes, Jellyfish, Langurs, Octopi, Penguins, Seahorses, and Sea Turtles.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Congress Critter #1

A new series!  Woop woop.  Let's start with the newest member of congress, Curtis Clawson from Florida.  He was elected to replace Trey Radel after that first term Tea Party darling was caught buying cocaine--LOTS OF COCAINE!  So enter first time politician Curtis Clawson.  He's sitting on a panel and in spite of their introduction and name plates, he things these two US Government officials are foreigners.  Transcript says it all!
Clawson: I am familiar with your country. I love your country. And I am hopeful with the new change in regime that the future and the land of promise and the land of opportunity of India can finally become so….
So, I’m enthusiastic about working with you all and anything I can do to make the relationship with India better….
So, just as your capital is welcome here to produce good-paying jobs in the U.S., I’d like our capital to be welcome there and there to be free enough capital so that both sides are on the same territory. And I ask cooperation and commitment and priority from your government in so doing. Can I have that?
Biswal: I think your question is to the Indian government and we certainly share your sentiments, and we certainly will advocate that on behalf of the U.S. government.
Clawson: Of course. And I’m asking your opinion of how they view….
Biswal: Like I said, I think we have heard a lot of positive signals, a lot of positive intentions. And we will be engaging both through the state department, through the commerce department, through our USTR, through our treasury department to make sure that we are engaging on those issues and looking for the concrete steps forward.
Clawson: Okay, let’s see some progress.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Easy Peach Cobbler

Late July Blooms

 Torenia my new love!
Flock of Phlox!

My Newest Tchotchke

For my container gardens!  Rainbow mosaic bear, a souvenir from the Zoo of Maryland in Baltimore.

Zoo of Maryland in Baltimore #1

On a whim, on a relatively lovely day for the end of July in the middle of the mid-Atlantic states, I went to the zoo. I have four viable options for a day trip and chose the one that has always impressed me the least: The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. It's an old school zoo with an honorable origin. It was the third public zoological park in incorporate in the United States in 1876. (I know the first was in Philadelphia--another day trip option. I don't know the second.)

The last time I attended I was frankly depressed by a lot of the condition of things. The primates were all in a very dismal and gloomy setting, the polar bears setting was not in good shape, Most of the whole Maryland Wilderness section was closed. This time a lot has changed. Things were just in a better general state of repair. The number of staff was double that of my last visit which was also on mid-summer Saturday. They have projects in the works--a major recreation of their African penguin habitat.

Within their limits, they have chosen to focus on three biomes. The Arctic, Africa and Maryland's own wilderness.

One last thought: the crowds that go to zoos are not the same as the ones that go to museums!

 One of the many ubiquitous sculptures that seem to be everywhere in modern zoos.

Zoo of Maryland in Baltimore #2

Stop #2 @ the Zoo of Maryland in Baltimore. The Polar Bear Watch.

It's a relatively new aspect of this 138 year old zoological park. The main feature is an expansive compound for Polar Bears perched on a hill. The large open space is bifurcated by a large Arctic Buggy. The buggy conceals openings beneath it that are designed to keep two or more Polar Bears in separate spaces. This would theoretically allow for a male and a female with cubs to be kept at the zoo without endangering the cubs. You can go up into the arctic buggy as an observation platform. Inside there are streaming videos about Polar Bear conservation and exhibits about their habitat etc. It is also air conditioned in the summer and heated in the winter.(The last time I visited the AC was on the fritz and it was about 325˚ Fahrenheit inside!) On the way to the main compound are a series of other cages holding Ravens (one Raven today), Snow Owls (no en casa today), and Arctic Foxes. One sad little caged fellow pacing around his cage like a deadman walking--another sad moment.



Zoo of Maryland in Baltimore #3

Stop #3 @ the Zoo of Maryland in Baltimore. The Maryland Wilderness.

This is a very cost and state-centric exhibition area. The New Orleans Zoo has a similar Bayou-centric exhibition area. Entering you find a lot of open areas created to support common local species. The bog area has turtles, for example. There is the construction of a new aviary to feature the waterfowl of the state. In enclosures you discover a wonderful pair of River Otters. It's too bad that watching then is through scratched plexy-glass. Another enclosure hosts a Red Fox. There is also a really interesting "Cave" structure where you can see a variety of snakes, insects and bats. Nearby is a another structure designed to look like a hollowed out tree with more snakes. In the middle of this is a spiral staircase that children can climb up to reach the top of the faux tree on a ridge above and then slide down an amazing slide. Next to this is a set of turtle shells that invite children to pretend they are turtles, too. I think an exclosure with White-tailed deer is a no brainer addition, as well as, a space for wild turkeys--both common in the woods around the entire state.


Zoo of Maryland in Baltimore #4

Stop #4 @ the Zoo of Maryland in Baltimore. The African Penguin Enclosure.
 The Zoo of Maryland is well known for it's African Penguin conservation activities. It is the home of about 50 or 25 breeding pairs. It's current reinvention is the creation of a new state-of-the-art African Penguin enclosure. Recently listed as endangered, this exhibit will double the zoo's population to a colony of 100. Here you see the construction on the future enclosure and the animals in the old one. An enclosure where penguins share space with cormorants. The new space will include a generous location for a colony of flamingoes, too.


Zoo of Maryland in Baltimore #5

Stop #5 @ the Zoo of Maryland in Baltimore. The African Journey, part 1.
Animals from Africa are clearly the zoo's long-standing priority. Keeping them in more natural and humane settings is their goal, too. Some find themselves well accommodated, and others, await a better day. Like so many zoos, they co-habitate species like zebras and rhinos, although the Philadelphia zoo had an unfortunate incident between them that caused them to reconfigure the enclosures, at Baltimore, Ostriches are also added to this common mix.

In this first look at the animals in the African Journey, I include photos of Sitatunga, Ostrich, Zebra, Rhino, Painted Tortoise, the diminutive antelope Dik Dik, and Warthog.

Like every zoo experience, some animals are on, and some aren't. In this area of the zoo there were no good photo opportunities for the Cheetahs, Leopards, Kudus or Adnan Antelopes.