The Queen of All Conniptions

 

It all started with a garter snake ©voyager, all rights reserved

I wasn’t going to tell you about this until I got back, but I could use some encouragement. On Monday I’m off on an adventure with a friend. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a very long time and I think (I hope!) I’m finally ready. What could it be? Well, I’m off to make peace with snakes. I’ve written once about my fear of snakes, but I didn’t tell you how I came to be so afraid.

It started as an ordinary summer day when I was about 5 or 6 years old. We were living in the country and I loved to spend my days just wandering, collecting stones and wildflowers and watching the birds and the bees and the bugs. I was restricted to the field and small woodlot behind the house, but as long as I was home for lunch and dinner there weren’t many other rules, except one…don’t bring bugs home. No caterpillars, no crickets, no bugs of any kind. My mother was not an outdoors person and bugs were one of the main reasons why. She hated them. If a spider or some other buggy creature managed to get indoors it was my job to get them back outdoors, most of the time with mom waving her arms and hollering at me to just kill the poor thing.

On this particular summer’s day I had found a great big worm with stripes and I was so excited that I ran home to show my mom. I’d never seen one of these before and mom always said that worms were good for the garden so I knew she’d pleased that I’d found a nice big one. I ran into the house with my treasure calling out “look what I found, Mom.” My mom was standing at the sink and she turned around, wiping her hands on her apron and for a moment she just stood there with her jaw hanging  down and then she started to scream. It was a blood curdling scream and I’d never heard anything like it. Mom tended to be dramatic, but nothing like this. This was the Queen of All Conniptions. She picked up the broom beside her and started waving it at me and finally there were words, “Get it out of here. Get it out. Get it out.” I was a bit stunned so it took me a moment, but I finally headed toward the door. She practically pushed me out with the broom and as I was about to set it down she hollered “Not there. Not by the house. Get it out of here. Oh God… help… help…” Like I said, mom was dramatic. I had no clue why a worm would cause a reaction like that. I mean, it seemed OK to me. A little wiggly maybe, but I was obviously missing something. So I ran down to the mailbox and throw it in the grass with my mom yelling at  me the whole time at me. When I got back in the house she made me take a bath. In the daytime and baths were only ever at night! This really was serious. For hours afterward my mom kept up the histrionics. I learned that snakes were dangerous and wanted to bite you and that this bite would hurt and it would make you sick. Also, snakes were dirty and slimy and carried disease. Oh yes, and they wanted to eat my cat. Well, I won’t ever do that again I remember thinking and I haven’t, but the story proves that I haven’t always been afraid of snakes.

Now, I want to undo that trauma and make peace with snakes so we are going to a place in Michigan with a small reptile zoo. The fellow who operates it has a you-tube channel that I started following at the beginning of this quest about 2 years ago. I wanted to desensitize myself and his channel appealed to me because he has a snake named Lucy and Lucy was the name of our first lab. This fellow is also quite personable with a great attitude toward life so it was easy to keep watching. In the process of all this watching and desensitizing, I began to trust this man as I watched him help other people get over their fear of snakes. I began to think that I could do that too, so here I am getting ready to pack myself off to meet a snake or two. My girlfriend has no fear of snakes so she’s the perfect companion for this adventure and if I can’t actually touch a snake I’ll still have fun with the other animals. I’m not afraid of Iguanas or turtles or even baby alligators.

So the big question is Will I or Won’t I conquer my fear. You’ll have to tune in on Wednesday next week to find out. Jack’s Walk will be here Monday and Tuesday, but for a change they won’t be actual photos from that day. I’m not sure what they will be yet so that’ll be a surprise too. Wish me luck. I know for sure that I won’t be touching Lucy because she’s 20 feet long and gravid so not in such a good mood right now. That’s fine, something smaller is good with me. Size doesn’t matter does it?

Let’s Play 9: Goodbye!

This concludes our series with some more animals from the wait line for the wild water ride, in which #1 learned an important lesson about agency, autonomy, consent and respect.

On our second day we went straight for that attraction since it tends to have the longest waiting times. We still needed almost an hour, which #1 used for bickering about how it was a stupid ride and she didn’t want to go anyway. We told her that of course she didn’t have to, but we wouldn’t leave the line since the rest of the family wanted to go on the ride, so she decided to come along.

When we were all seated, properly belted in and the boat started to move she said “I don’t want to!”. Mr yelled for them to stop the boat, they let her out and we took the ride without her, which was exactly not what she wanted as evidenced by the 2 hours that she kept complaining about how it had been unnecessary for us to stop the ride and that she would have been OK to go with us.

Well, kid, no means no, and if you actually mean “yes”, you need to say that.

Her little sister, who is usually the kindest person on earth and too often the target of her older sister’s cruelties, frustration and meanness, couldn’t keep herself from talking about how that was the coolest ride in the whole park for two straight days and we only had half a heart to stop her…

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

My absolute favourite, as hippos are my favourites. Mr. wants to email Lego about whether this can be bought as a set and put it inthe front yard (so it can become a Pokestop. Yes. he’s serious).

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Anyway, the design of that ride is mean. What you can see from the outside is the boats disappear around the corner, emerge at the top and then go down the steep ride. What you cannot see is that they first haul you up and then you don’t go forward to the steep ride but are turned 90° and go down a different ride backwards. You then travel the hidden dinosaur valley (obviously no pics here) before you go up again for the final ride.

It was fun.

All in all, the whole trip was fun even though it was exhausting. We were absolutely lucky with the weather as t was summer temperatures, making all the water attractions enjoyable. Now we have some arctic air with snowfall on Saturday…

Let’s Play 8. Nighttime

Our trip was two days with one overnight stay in the holiday village and we’d chosen an ancient Egypt themed “cottage”. The rooms were clean and more than enough for an overnight stay, and I adored their attention to detail. This fellow hung over our bed.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved
We’re well protected from any Lego mosquitos.

©Giliell, all rights reserved
But maybe we should have a word with their pest control?

Let’s Play: At Legoland 6

My favourite part is probably the mini world, where they rebuild cities and places in Lego. I could have spent hours there.

Also a whiptail found that a balcony in Venice is the perfect place for its nest.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved
The huge dinosaurs are the best thing anyway.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Let’s Play: At the Legoland 5

No, really, I don’t like rollercoasters. Maybe it’s an acquired taste or one you need to learn young, but it’s not my fun part. I rode my first one last summer and before even considering this one I researched whether it was faster (no way!) or slower than the one in Spain. I don’t like the sudden movements, though I was not fighting unconsciousness this time as I did in Spain. It’s not like I don’t like speed as such, there’s some fast stuff i really like, just not this. So enjoy the pics from the “harbour trip” in small boats at slower than  walking pace.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Let’s Play: At Legoland 4, or capitalism sucks

Theme parks will always try to milk you for more money. From the entrance fee to overpriced food to games where you can “win” overpriced toys at every corner, it’s an all out assault on your budget. I don’t know if other theme parks “offer” a similar “service”, but at Legoland you can buy “express passes”. In their most basic version (just 20 bucks per person per day!) you can reserve you place in line and then wander off to eat some overpriced food and then return at your scheduled time to take your place in the line. This goes up to the premium version (almost no waiting time for only 70 € per person per day!) and of course you are simply not making any friends when you walk past people who’ve been waiting for an hour and take “their place”.

Now, it would be perfectly easy to integrate the basic version into an app for all customers and thereby eliminate those fucking waiting lines altogether, but that might lose them some money (maybe it would make them some money because people would have more time to hang around the food courts instead of eating home made sandwiches while standing in line?), therefore it’s inconceivable!

On the other hand I mentioned to Mr: “Imagine we’d spent some 600 bucks on those express passes and could ride one of those things every 15 minutes. Wouldn’t that be horrible?”

I still don’t know what I find worse: waiting in line for the rolercoaster or riding it, but I’m tending towards the latter. Before you think I’m all grumpy, enjoy some images from the “Atlantis” aquarium.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

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Let’s Play: At the Legoland 1

I have no idea when I became a person who goes to amusement/theme parks. Probably an unexpected side effect of becoming a parent and family cultures. We were not a family that went to theme parks. In fact, the only one I ever visited was the original Legoland in Denmark when I was six years old on a holiday with my parents. Mr’s family usually didn’t have money for a holiday, so their holidays were occasional day trips that included amusement parks*, so when the two merged and the kids learned about the concept of theme parks, we became people who go there.

Since the Easter holidays were badly timed, we decided against a week in nearby France and instead booked a two days trip to the Legoland in Bavaria. The very redeeming feature there is the wonderful Lego creations, which I’ll share with you, together with the anecdotes of the Giliell family at a theme park.

Our first attraction was the Safari, where you sit in little cars that roll on trails through the savannah.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved
Interestingly, the grey animals come out looking like badly pixelated images from the dawn of computer graphics in the pictures.

©Giliell, all rights reserved
You could get a nice shower there.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

 

*We do come from families that are remarkably similar and different at the same time.

Very Curious Artform – Strandbeest

Whilst being sick, I came across this very peculiar video:

The creations look eerily organic and uncanny alive and I have found the creators site very interesting, or,  as Caine would name it “a time sink”. It is a fascinating blend of art and engineering. I think that in a virtual PC simulation it could be combined with real evolutionary algorithms these beasts could really “evolve” into even more bizzare shapes.

It also reminded me of Caine, I think she would love it.

A tiny Snail

Avalus has a new project on the go and he’s sharing with us.

I am putting together a new aquarium (I love caring for/looking at fish*) and while it develops, it is habitat to a whole load of daphnia and a few small ramshorn snails (German: Posthornschnecke, lit. postal horn snail with ‘horn’ as in fanfare, the musical instrument) to monitor water conditions.

I used this to experiment with photographing small things with my phone via a cheap plastic jewelers magnifying glass. Opportunity arose, when this small snail went by the front pane.

(*and plants and snails and shrimps and algae** …)

(** This year I’ll find you, Volvox!)

The unsuspecting snail in question, minding/eating bacterial mats. The snails shell is about 8 mm in diameter. ©Avalus, all rights reserved

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