Full Fish Ahead: Part 2

Things are happening in Avalus’ new aquarium. Let’s join him to see what’s up today.

Part 2 – Life in the Shell

The water in the new tank slowly clears up, the next plants and the filter are underway to my vendor and so it’s time to find a nice leaf lay down and relax.

Corydoras Panda enjoying the safety of a walnut leaf in my other tank. Yes, I have quite some green filament algae. ©Avalus, all rights reserved

In the new tank, we can see algae growing on the wood and producing oxygen. But their reign is short, they will soon be overgrown by sessile filament algae.

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Even More Books…

Well, one more book. I have about twenty knife and swords books in the sights for future purchases, but I am still in the middle of reading the first seven I already have purchased. The flu-like illness that has been bugging me on and off for two weeks is unfortunately not very conducive to reading, especially to reading in a foreign language.

But Marcus was so very, very kind and has sent me this beauty, which I have not seen offered anywhere here. I must say it is a lovely book on first sight and it became a cherished possession instantly.

Now I had not planned on buying a book specifically about japanese knives, because I intend leaving making japanese knives to the Japanese, but there is no denying that they have a reputation of being superb tools so it won’t hurt to know about them. Quite the opposite, I am sure there is a lot of knowledge in this book that will be beneficial to me and I am very much looking forward to reading it.

However this makes me think a little – all the knives that I have made so far and that I intend to make in the future are my own designs and represent my aesthetical preferences as well as my style of using a knife. And whenever I look at works of other knife-makers (which I do not do very often), often I see that everyone develops a distinctive style. For example Bob Loveless has been renown for drop-point small hunting knives, Walter Sorrels sells mostly very pointy and straight, tanto-style all-purpose knives, Stefan Santangelo seems to like knives which have a slight forward angle between the blade and the handle with a little kink in it etc. I have no doubt that all these knives are perfectly functional and comfortable to use. There is no single “correct” knife design.

I find it remarkable how expressive can be a piece of craft that is essentialy just a sharpened sheet of metal with a piece of wood to hold it with, even when looking at just the outline.

Incidentally you can see two things in the last picture. Firstly, my left middle finger is nearly completely healed. There is still slight swelling and an area with tickling-burning sensation when touched, but it gets constantly, albeit very slowly, better. Secondly, in case you are wondering, that is my school pencil-case, about thirty years old by now.

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

Nature is full of art. This small bunch of desiccated leaves fascinated me today. I thought it looked a bit like a coat of arms, complete with a lion’s head and spear. Jack postulated that it was the Royal Seal of the Faerie Kingdom, but Jack has an active imagination so who knows. What do you see?

YouTube Video: Tod’s Workshop

“You make one knife, you make another, and you never stop.” True words.

Tod Todeschini has put out a very short lovely video promoting his workshop.

I do not think that I will manage to pull it off with making knives for a living, to be honest. As in every endeavor, a bit of luck is required and the competition is tough. So even if I manage to do everything right (which I won’t, I never do), success is not guaranteed.  But I am definitively going to give it a try, because I am more than fed-up with being corporate drone.

And when I will be forced to seek employment again, I will do my best to avoid US owned shareholder companies like the plague they are.

Jack’s Walk

The First Day of Spring ©voyager, all rights reserved

Happy First Day of Spring, everyone. Yesterday was a bit of a melting day around here and early this morning the pond at the park was almost completely open water. By the end of the day I expect any remaining ice will be gone. Best of All? It might be a bit hard to see, but the willow trees are starting to look fuzzy with early buds. The willows are the first trees at the park to get leaves and I could jump up and down with excitement that I can actually see some promise of green. It was quite overcast when Jack and I were out, but the sun is shining now and it’s warm enough to even feel like a fine spring day. I hope all of you are having a fine first of spring day, too.

Teacher’s Corner: All You Need is Love (and other bullshit)

I’m home today, with the Little One having caught a stomach bug and me not being sure if I caught it as well, or was simply feeling sick from having to do the cleaning up and not sleeping all night, so I called in sick.

So I’ve got some time for a post that has been stewing in my mind for a while, on some pretty toxic notions of parenting and raising kids who fail.

One of the ingredients was a tweet on German Twitter where a woman posted that “kids don’t need boundaries, all they need is that you love them enough and they will always behave”. In the further discussion she doubled and trippled down, linking all unwanted behaviours to lack of love. Your kids eats chocolate cake instead of dinner? You don’t love them enough? (Also, healthy eating is overrated, we’ll come back to this) You disagree with this person? It’s because mummy (!) didn’t love you enough. Whatever goes wrong, it’s ultimately the fault of the parents, especially the mothers, who didn’t love their children enough.

Do I have to explain why such an idea is toxic and destroys all healthy parent-child relationships? If the blame for inappropriate behaviour ultimately resides with your lack of love, then you must at all cost prevent that behaviour. This usually means removing al sources of possible conflict, often by fulfilling your child’s every wish and desire. If a temper tantrum  over no ice cream means you don’t love your child, you give them ice cream. Here we come back to what I wrote above, because the person literally said that i should just let the child eat the cake, nutrition is overrated anyway. This is the second coping mechanism of this philosophy: move the goalposts. Everybody who ever parented knows that your kid will still show behaviours that are inappropriate. Even if you obey their every command, they will have temper tantrums because the world does not indeed revolve around them and most of them will still eat sweets, no matter how much you love them. Therefore, the behaviour that was a sign of lack of love a minute ago is redefined as benign.

And as an aside, some people are just damn lucky and have children who hardly need any parenting at all. I know this because I have one. I also have one who needs a lot of parenting. And I don’t love the former more than  the latter. If anything, the latter had 2 years of my love all to herself before her sister was born.

This “philosophy” gets even worse when seen in the context of disabilities like AD(H)S or also kids on the spectrum. Those children will show lots of “inappropriate” behaviour because they often cannot deal with the world, or with themselves, and if parenting of neurotypical and able children is already hard, then  those parents’ lives are in expert mode fro  the start. If their behaviour is no longer a result of their disability but an indictment of your lack of love, then seeking the help you need is twice as hard, especially if an ADHD kid is raised on “no limits or boundaries”.

Linked to this, and therefore my second “ingredient” is the idea of “snowplow parenting”, which is apparently the kind of parents even helicopter parents curl back from in disgust. In the wake of the US college admission scandal, where the only surprising thing was that some people were surprised, the NYT published an article about parents who baby their kids well into adulthood. The results are devastating for the young adults, who are dropping out of college because they cannot cope with the presence of sauce in the cafeteria. But least you think that this is a phenomenon of the American upper class, I know similar complaints from doctors, who have parents accompany their mildly ill adult kids to a doctor’s appointment or even to a job interview. I see it on a smaller scale when parents try to protect their kids from the consequences of their actions (where every consequence we throw at them is ridiculous compared to what the world is going to do. Missing out on some fun because you got detention for being late is nothing compared to losing your job), or parents fretting over their big bulky 12 years old son waiting for 45 minutes after school before some activity starts. Because a meteor could hit him or something.

Now, I don’t doubt that all those parents mean well, that they truly love their children. But they don’t do them good. Especially when the boys, but not only them, grow up, the parents lose all their chances of turning the wheel around. I have parents who are obviously afraid of their sons, who keep doing their bidding so they can avoid the dreaded conflict or the consequences.

Nothing here says “don’t love your children”. Love them, a lot. Tell them often. But don’t mistake helicopter or snowplow parenting for love, consumer goods for love. Give them what they need, and occasionally also what they want.


A Spider Puzzle

Avalus has sent us a puzzle today. Somewhere in this photo there’s a spider. Since the spider is hard to find  I’m going to put the photo on the front page. If you’re arachnophobic please skip past this post, but if you’re not can you find the spider? The answer is below the fold. (click for full size)

Where is the Spider? ©Avalus, all rights reserved

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Jack’s Walk

VanSittart Park ©voyager, all rights reserved

It was a damp, cold zero degrees when Jack and I were out this morning, but now it’s climbed to +4 º and melting is finally happening again. Hooray! It looks like Spring has finally decided to make a reappearance and this time it might actually stay. If the forecast is to be believed it’s supposed to stay above zero all week and might actually climb all the way up to +9º. Be still my heart. I cannot wait to see the end of snow and ice this year. It feels like winter’s been dragging on forever and I am bone tired of it. Melt, melt, melt, I say.

Tree Tuesday

Desert trees need tricks up their sleeves to survive the hot, arid conditions and the Bottle Trees of Namibia and Angola (Pachypodium lealii) manage this with bulbous trunks that retain water.

Those trunks don’t just contain water, though. They have another trick up their sleeves to help them keep their water.

It’s also full of poison. This is not the kind of thing you want to find in your water bottles, but it does help the Bottle Tree actually keep its water. Which was their plan all along. That’s why it’s a Bottle Tree and not just a bottle. The poison is so effective that hunters in the region used to smear the sap on their arrows, just to add that extra ‘oomph’. And yet no-one calls it a Poison Dart Tree!

It all works rather well for the Bottle Tree, and they can grow to some 8 metres (26 ft) in height. Although sometimes they only reach about 1 metre (3 ft) tall. If you want to survive in a desert, you need to be willing to give a little. Or a lot. Like 7 metres (23 ft) of your potential height.

The trees are also covered in long, sharp prickles because poison alone might not keep their precious water supply safe.

However tall a Bottle Tree grows, it’ll be almost entirely branchless until the very top. The leaves grow on slender branches and are jealously defended from herbivores by sharp spines. Around May to November the leaves will all drop off as the Bottle Tree diverts all its effort into growing surprisingly extravagant flowers.

Those thorns are magnificent and you’ve got to love a tree that’s so determined and deadly.


From Real Monstrosities, which is a pretty interesting site full of weird and wonderful things.

What a Mess

Our woods are a nature and water reserve which means that there is no commercial use of the wood. Trees that have fallen or are at risk of killing people are just cleared off the paths and left to rot, which means that you get to see decay in a way you really get to see in our tidy, tended to world.

It’s also wonderful for loot for crafting…

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved
I love you, too

They also offer space for animals, like those ants. I discovered them when I wanted to place my resin stuff on the top to take pics. I decided against it.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack and I ran into a couple of big, beautiful horses today. It’s maple syrup season and this farm hosts a pancake and syrup breakfast during the month of March. This team are here every year to give wagon rides to anyone who wants to bump up and down a country road full of potholes and slush. What fun! I normally try to come late enough to miss all the fuss and foofaraw, but our timing was a bit off today. Jack barked like a fool at them from the car until they were far enough down the road to let him loose. He jumped out, watched them for half a second, gave one final woof and then ran into the woods to chase after the newly emerging spring smells. Each new bare patch of land requires very careful sniffing and Jack takes this job seriously. Some places require an extra bit of pee which Jack is always happy to provide. I always know the important places, though, because Jack will pee, turn around and lift his other leg to pee again and then turn back for one final squirt. The triple pee is always done with great seriousness, but it’s only half of the ritual. Next, the boy will dig in his back feet and rake up oodles of debris and mud as he stretches his legs way out behind him before giving a final snort and moving on. I wish I spoke urine.