Angry Birds

So school has been keeping me very busy. I’m incredibly burnt out and I really needed this break. Having gone to school over the summer with a week off before and after, I’ve not really had a good break since last Christmas. I enjoyed my first semester at UNCW (affectionately known as Dub). I didn’t do as well as I would have liked, but I started the semester still all messed up in the head over the personal life stuff. Eh, I’m not sweating it.

I’m spending my break just decompressing. Mostly, that entails taking pictures of birds. I think I’m pissing them off, honestly, but have a look for yourself.

That's Quite Enough, by me

That's Quite Enough, by me

That’s a male Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) giving me the bad-eye.

 

Getting the Badeye from a Yellow-rumped Warbler, by me

Getting the Badeye from a Yellow-rumped Warbler, by me

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata)

 

What's Your Problem, Creeper??, by me

What's Your Problem, Creeper??, by me

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)

 

Brown-headed Nuthatch, by me

Brown-headed Nuthatch, by me

Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla)

 

Angry Eastern Bluebird, by me

Angry Eastern Bluebird, by me

Female Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

 

Great Blue Heron Gives Me the Stinkeye, by me

Great Blue Heron Gives Me the Stinkeye, by me

Juvenile Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

See a pattern, or is it just me?

I’ll put up some less angry-looking birds next time.

From whence came the art:

All images are ©2010 by me, and are clickable to see larger versions on my Flickr site.

What I Want

Rough Day, By Lou FCD on deviantArt

Rough Day, By Lou FCD on deviantArt

It’s a recurring theme lately.

I’ve been wrestling with being down, maybe to the point of depression. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t rightly say, but it wouldn’t surprise me to hear such a diagnosis.

So I suppose it’s natural that among the questions my friends are asking me are two that keep popping up: “What do you want?” and its sister question, “What do you need?”

The second question is easy to answer now, but it took me a while to figure out. I need to be. I need to be sad, and I need for that to be OK. I am not ready to be happy today. I need you to listen, not try and make it better. I need your permission, I need your acceptance. I need a hug from you.

The first is not a hard question to answer, it’s just a hard question to feel allowed to answer. I know what I want. I can’t have it, but I know what I want. I can’t tell you about it, but I know what I want. I can’t express it generally in public on Twitter or Facebook even, but I know what I want.

Do you really want to know what I want? I hope you mean it when you say you do, because if you keep pressing me, I’m going to tell you. And you know what I’m going to say.

What I want is a fist full of your hair in one hand, a fist full of your breast in the other. What I want is to growl your name behind your ear and hear you whimper mine. What I want, right here and right now, is to sink my teeth into the back of your shoulder, and feel your warm, wet tears on the back of mine.

That’s what I want.

From whence came the art:

That image is titled Rough Day, by me, all rights reserved. You can purchase prints of my work at my print-shop on dA, or you can just hire me for your intimate or other portraiture needs.

I Write Like

Revel, by LouFCD on Flickr

Revel, by LouFCD on Flickr

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything new here, but I’ve  been busy. Between school, the dissolution of my marriage, and my new girlfriend Canon (she’s a Rebel!), life has just kept me hopping.

I’ve got a personal writing project newly in the works, and perhaps it will show up here someday, but it’s not really ready yet.

What really prompted me to post something new was a whim by Glendon Mellow, who you might know better as The Flying Trilobite. I was a bit curious to see what sort of answer I might get with this writing analyzer, so I put in a few posts and got different answers each time.

Working backwards in time on this blog,

Real Women is apparently most like David Foster Wallace, an author with whom I was not familiar, but I note he hung himself a few years ago. That doesn’t bode well…

Enter the Queen, a prelude to Hamlet that I wrote for a Lit class (and which I love because it changes the tone of the whole play), is most like H.P. Lovecraft. One has to be happy about that, right?

8 Seconds, a piece for my first English class at Coastal, and featured in last year’s literary magazine, was compared to Dan Brown (a bit disappointing, that…).

Gone to California, the analyzer tells me, is like Vladimir Nabokov. Score.

I’m not sure what this all says about the evolution of my pen, to go from Nabokov to a guy who hung himself, but it doesn’t seem good.

Fortunately, I’m having an affair with Canon, and I think she kind of likes me.

 

Suspicion, by LouFCD on deviantArt

From whence came the art:

The first image is titled Revel and the second Suspicion, both by me and both copyright 2010.

Self Portrait

Chiaroscuro Self Portrait, by Lou FCD on Flickr

Chiaroscuro Self Portrait, by Lou FCD on Flickr

Things I Should Have Learned in Chem I (but didn’t)

Coastal Carolina Community College, by LouFCD @ Flickr

Coastal Carolina Community College, by LouFCD @ Flickr

I love my school. I don’t think there’s any question about that.

I love the campus (tore up with construction as it is at the moment), I love the size, I love the variety of classes offered (though I wish there were more, of course), I love the high standards, and most of all I love the faculty and staff. I don’t think I’ve ever met a conglomeration of people so dedicated to the purpose of helping a rag-tag, diverse bunch of people and their unique needs as the faculty at Coastal. With one exception (an instructor no longer there, I might add), I’ve spent nearly two years watching instructors fall all over themselves to help students understand the presented material, and inspire us to think about it, evaluate it, expand on it, and run like hell with it. I don’t know if this is the norm for the community college as I’ve never attended another, but it certainly wasn’t my university experience lo, those many years ago. I will sorely miss Coastal when I graduate this Spring and transfer to UNCW this Fall, regardless of how wonderful an experience that might be.

That freedom, I tend to think, has taken a rather extensive toll on this blog (not to mention JanieBelle’s!). I expend a great deal of creative energy going above and beyond, working my ass off to not just pass my classes, but to excel in them, and when I get home, quite frankly, there’s little left for personal projects like blogging or even photography.

So it pains me to level a criticism, valid as it may be, in any shape or form. I have already taken my concern to several of the instructors there, and to The Chair, and I am satisfied that my voice has been heard and the situation is properly addressed. Nevertheless, I thought a bit of explanation for the title and point of this post is in order.

I took CHM 151 (Chem I) online last semester. I didn’t want to, but it was only offered at times when other classes that I needed were offered, and it was the best of a list of unsatisfactory choices for me, near as I could tell with the information I had in hand. Some days will be like that. Coastal can’t possibly tailor their entire schedule to every student, and they do go out of their way to do the best they can with what they have to work with. So with the consolation that at least I’d have a real on-campus lab, I elected to do the online lecture.

Big mistake.

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On the Composition of Charles

Swarmed, by LouFCD on Flickr

Swarmed, by LouFCD on Flickr

In my spare time (haha) I’m again reading Darwin’s Origin of Species. It’s an incredibly insightful work for its day or any other, and even modern biology writers, with all the updated information available at our fingertips, are hard pressed to match its beauty.

In reading it again with my own now more advanced understanding of biology, I’m struck by two things in particular within the first several chapters. The first that stands out to me is Darwin’s mastery of the turn-of-phrase. In World Lit II last semester, the pieces we read were exemplars of their time period. The early and mid-nineteenth century works were chosen specifically to highlight the Romantics’ “rejection” of Enlightenment ideals. The systematic logic and naturalistic view of the universe was traded in for adornment, symbolism, and emotion. Yet even then I noted in an essay on my midterm that Darwin was an outstanding exception to this rule.

Romantics viewed the world around them as a natural extension of their emotions. Emotion and Nature are inextricably intertwined, the one often used as a symbol for the other. This was a rejection of Enlightenment ideals of the logic and order of Nature. They valued this emotion and its connection to the natural world almost to the exclusion of reason. (Charles Darwin was a notable exception, whose seminal 1859 treatise on evolution, “On the Origin of Species &etc” being a work replete with both the reason valued by the Enlightenment and the powerful emotive awe treasured by the Romantics.)

(I may transcribe my entire response as a separate post, just for fun – I was pretty happy with the way it came out, under pressure and unedited, and in response to a perfect prompt for taking modern Creationists to the woodshed – you know I took that bait with reckless abandon.)

I stand by that comment, and this latest read reinforces my opinion that Darwin exemplifies the best of both Enlightenment and Romantic writing. His synthesis is unparalleled among the writers of his day.

An oft-quoted example of his beautiful mastery of emotive language is found in the final passage of Origin:

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

The other glaring feature of the first several chapters is my own recurring frustration. On nearly every single page I read, I want to just scream backwards through time words of encouragement to get this greatest of minds to take that one last little step that in retrospect is so very very tiny. Darwin was one thought away from picking up the revolutionary idea of Gregor Mendel. He dances all around it, a ballerina doing elegant pirouettes without ever quite stepping on that one spot in the center – particulate theory of inheritance. (Genes, we call them.)

Thus it is, as I believe, that when the males and females of any animal have the same general habits of life, but differ in structure, colour, or ornament, such differences have been mainly caused by sexual selection; that is, individual males have had, in successive generations, some slight advantage over other males, in their weapons, means of defense, or charms; and have transmitted these advantages to their male offspring.

I have to sigh, and be resigned to the facts of history, else I might scream. Particles, Charles, particles.

From whence came the art:

That image is titled Swarmed, by me, and is © 2009.

From the Seashore, by Anna Petrovna Bunina (1806)

Pelican Sunrise, by LouFCD @ Flickr

Pelican Sunrise, by LouFCD @ Flickr

In 1806, a Russian poet by the name of Anna Petrovna Bunina wrote something strange, and dark, and beautiful. She titled it, “С ПРИМОРСКОГО БЕРЕГА”, roughly translated “From the Seashore”. We read a translation by Pamela Perkins (in the Norton Anthology) early in our semester in my World Lit II class, and honestly it took a while to grow on me.

When it came time to begin work on our creative project for the semester, I turned to this piece for my inspiration. Since I’d been working on my photography it seemed natural to blend the two and see what happened.

The photo above is an outtake from that project. (As usual, all images in this post are linked to their respective Flickr page. For desktop-sized versions, click through to Flickr and then click the “All Sizes” button above each photo.)

I’m very tickled. In fact, I’m so tickled that although it’s usually my policy not to put my school work on the blog until after it’s graded and returned to me, I just can’t wait any more. You’re getting this before it’s even due. (This Thursday, for the record.)

The poem in its original Russian, an English translation by me, my photos from the project, and a few more outtakes are below the fold. (If you have religious nudity-related neuroses, no need to tell me about them, just move along. I don’t really care.)

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Autumn Legs

Thought I’d share, hope you don’t mind.

Autumn Legs, by LouFCD @ Flickr

Autumn Legs, by LouFCD @ Flickr

A few more below the fold.

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Loggerhead Sea Turtle Nest Sitting

Turtle Nest, by LouFCD on Flickr

Turtle Nest, by LouFCD on Flickr

I’ve been in the field a few times in the last several weeks. Though my classwork has me about buried, I really enjoy these little stress relievers where I can just enjoy the surroundings and take a few pictures. It started around Labor Day weekend, when I spent several nights sitting a nest of Loggerhead Sea Turtles down on North Topsail Beach. The turtles were due to hatch about any day, so I was very excited. Alas, they never did hatch out while I was there, but it was a relaxing time for the most part anyway.

In fact the Sea Turtle Hospital has no record of a hatch to date (nest 55). There are several possible reasons for that. They may have hatched during a storm while no one was looking, with the storm erasing every trace of their leaving the nest. That happens sometimes. The turtles could have been drowned by a storm as they were hatching, too. Also, while the possibility exists that this was a false nest, the Sea Turtle Hospital folks were pretty sure this was a real nest.

So it was a bit frustrating, sad, and disappointing, but I got some photos of other things that I thought I’d share here anyway. They are below the fold.

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Photoblogging My Coastal Friends

Bianca, by LouFCD on Flickr

Bianca, by LouFCD on Flickr

My good friend and Zoology classmate Bianca (pictued above – forget it, she’s married) noted to me at school that Crowded Head has been very ranty of late. While it’s true that this is my own special place for venting, I’d rather not allow that to become the general tone here, either.

With that in mind, I’ve been looking for something to write that doesn’t involve a great deal of venom and spittle. I’ve not really been inspired to write much lately though, what with school sucking up all my creative energy like a sponge on a bar.

It occurs to me that I haven’t posted any of my recent photos here, however, so I’m going to share some of my favorites that I’ve taken lately.

I’ve shot a handful of friends from school, and I have an idea about doing a specific collection (I’ll write about it when it’s done). Meanwhile, these have begun to grow into a bit of a personal yearbook.

More photos of my friends and schoolmates lie below the fold.

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To the Virgins, to Make Much of Wooden Horses

My Instructor's remark.

My Instructor's remark.

This is my second reading and response for Paul Verlaine (read the first here). The poem I chose to read and respond to was “Wooden Horses”  (1874), wherein Verlaine takes aim at using a carousel as symbolic for life. While this could have been his best of the lot, the didacticism of his Victorian mores is as sophomorically simplistic as it is blatant. “Wooden Horses” has all the subtlety of a sixteen-pound sledgehammer wielded by a bridge troll.

He uses gross stereotyping to create a strawman version of hedonistic pleasure, with as much negative imagery as humanly possible. I was particularly annoyed by “… the fattest maid / riding your backs as if in their chamber”, roughly translated into modern English as “the big fat ho / fucking the wooden carousel horse like nobody’s business”. Could he be anymore derisive or crass? I found it offensive in the extreme, what with my modern feminist sensibilities and all. That kind of crap is uncalled for in any time period, though it’s pervasive in the writings of fuckaphobes throughout history.

Fuck you in your dead ass, Paul.

I cannot stress enough how much I disliked reading Verlaine. Trite and unimaginative, puritanical and offensive. These are not the traits I look for in a decent writer, much less a poet. Fortunately, we have moved on through Mallarmé and now we’re on to Chekhov, writers with a bit of sense and perspective.

The poem by Verlaine (again translated by C. F. MacIntyre) and my response in rhyming couplets lies below the fold.

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Sir, You Do Not Know the Moon

My instructor's remarks.

My instructor's remarks.

Paul Verlaine was a French poet whose 19th century work sort of straddled the Romantic and Symbolist movements. Critics seem to love the guy, but I found his stuff rather uninspiring. While the case has been forwarded that Verlaine only sounds trite and prosaic now because it’s old and been done over and over since then, I would argue that it had all been done before by better poets (The Bard of Avon comes to mind).

Our assignment for World Lit was to read two of the five offered (translated by C. F. MacIntyre) selections and write a paragraph in response to each. As I was bored to tears with him and his shallow fling, I went a bit creative with my responses. About the only thing I found interesting about Verlaine was the progression of his style over time.

For my first response, I actually read and addressed two related poems, “Moonlight” (1869) and “The White Moonglow”  (originally untitled from 1870). Those poems and my Sonnet in response lie below the fold. (Read the second reading and response here in another post.)

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Blogging My Zoology Class 20090904

Our textbook, Animal Diversity, by Hickman, et al

Our textbook, Animal Diversity, by Hickman, et al

I’m going to get back to the Blogging My Biology Class series, finish out 111, do up 112, and tack on my Zoology class as well. It’s going to be a bit jumpy, though, but on the main series page they’ll all wind up in order by date of the class, rather than date of posting.

For now, my classmate Kristy needs notes from a particular day, so that’s up first.

We started out with a few announcements, a reminder that anyone wanting to do 20 hours of service learning would receive 4 points on their final grade, but that forms were due in to the Student Services office by Friday, 11 September. It’s more than half a letter grade in our 7 point grading system, so it’s worth the price of admission.

Next up was Loggerhead Sea Turtle Nest Sitting down on Topsail Island. There are several nests ready to hatch out any day, and anyone wanting to see this was welcome to head down and hang out. I wound up sitting at a nest on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, several hours each night, but no turtles thus far. I may or may not be able to make it tonight. It’s pouring down the rain, I’ve developed a head cold, and I have an 8 AM English class tomorrow. Of course, if I don’t make it, they’ll hatch tonight just to spite me. Little bastards.

Wary Gull, by LouFCD @ Flickr

Wary Gull, by LouFCD @ Flickr

I took a bunch of pictures of other stuff while waiting, and I’ll be posting them here on the blog for your viewing pleasure.

With that, we got back to where we had left off on Wednesday, with the Tissue Level of Organization.

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A Modest Reponse

Sonnet XVIII, by Lou FCD @ Flickr

Sonnet XVIII, by Lou FCD @ Flickr

Back in the days of yore when I went to high school, there were two kinds of Literature classes: British and American. With few exceptions, our reading selections were confined to the standard pantheon of a select few dead white guys from England or the United States. Both classes were as predictable as the sunrise; Brit Lit started with Beowulf, then Chaucer‘s The Canterbury Tales, then one of Shakespeare‘s plays, and probably finished with DickensA Tale of Two Cities. Variety was defined by whether the class read Hamlet or Macbeth. Poetry hit the five or ten standards like an old country church. Not comparing thee to a summer’s day would have been like not singing “Amazing Grace”. American Lit did the same thing for literature on this side of the pond, with Poe standing in for the Bard (“The Tell Tale Heart” and “The Raven” were the old standards).

To round out my English requirements, lo these many eons hence, I took English 262 this semester. World Lit II looked like it would give me something new and fresh, and it’s already doing just that. Among our first selections was “A Modest Proposal: For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public“, the 1729 political satire by Jonathan Swift. Of course, in my mind to this point, Swift = Gulliver’s Travels. No matter how hard pressed I might have been, that would have been his only work I could have named, his being Irish and all. I’d read it on my own time as a kid. We’ve since moved a bit further from jolly old England and are now reading pieces by Russians and Germans and (gasp!) some of them are even women not named Dickinson or Bronte.

Our first written assignment of the class was to write a response to A Modest Proposal, organically incorporating the answers to five of the six following questions in the response.

Smoothies for cannibals from DavidDMuir

Smoothies for cannibals, by DavidDMuir @ Flickr

  1. What is “the reading” about? Give the simple and most obvious answer. (Substitute title for “reading”).

  2. Is there an experience of your own of which “the reading” has reminded you? Describe it.

  3. What is the most important “word” in the “reading”? Look it up in the dictionary and define it. Explain your choice.

  4. What is the most important statement or line in the “reading”? Directly quote the line if it is short, and paraphrase if the quote is long. Use an in-text citation that lists the page number (or line number). Explain your choice.

  5. What word, not in the “reading,” would you say best explains the “reading”? Define the word and explain your choice.

  6. Pretend that the “reading” is not about the subject you mentioned in #1. Pretend that there is something else, less obvious, that the “reading” is about. What is this “something else”? Define the word and explain your choice.

My response, for which I received a grade of “check +” (oh how I loathe this system already!), lies below the fold. I suggest you read “A Modest Proposal” first, if you’re not familiar with it, to really understand what’s going on.

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God’s Protection or Selective Memory Loss?

Cementerio St.Giles-Cambridge from Teresa Marín

Cementerio St.Giles-Cambridge from Teresa Marín

The Miami Herald asks, “Is God protecting Fla. at Gov. Crist’s request?”

According to the story, Crist claims he’s sent little prayer post-its to the Western Wall in Jerusalem each year since his election, and lo and behold, no hurricanes have hit Florida since! Is this proof of the power of prayer?

Hardly.

First, Crist actually says that his first note went to the special holy wall in 2007. Florida’s last major hurricane strike came in 2005. How does he explain 2006’s lack of major strikes? Was it just a coincidental off year (or was the request retroactive)? Yeah, ponder that a moment before buying into this purported cause and effect of prayer/no hurricanes.

Second, let’s look at what the governor actually sent on his little indulgence requests and match it to reality. In his own words, he’s sent the exact same note every year, and it reads, “Dear God, please protect our Florida from storms and other difficulties. Charlie.”

Ok, so Charlie didn’t exactly ask for “no major hurricane strikes”, did he? No, he begged relief “from storms and other difficulties”. Is that what happened? Not exactly.

More below the fold.

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Mr. Deity and the Really Unique Gift

Sharp as usual, boiling the biblical nonsense down to its essence.

Donna Hughes and the War Against Whores

I Support Sex Workers' Rights

I Support Sex Workers' Rights

What do anti-sex crusaders and the sellers of creationist bullshit have in common?

I mean besides quotemining, deliberate conflation, obfuscation, and general disregard for reality. Well it turns out they’re both examples of scum sucking dirtbags.

Look, two academics squaring off against other academics, including one who HAS been an actual supporter of sex workers, and one who does listen to what we have to say, over what, you might ask? Prostitution in Rhode Island.

Read the rest at Renegade Evolution, because I don’t even want to repeat the fucking dishonest, disgusting, filthy garbage that Donna Hughes put out. I just don’t have the stomach to print that pile of shit, so read it at Ren’s.

I Was Shamed Into It, Now So Are You

Analiese Miller, by Ben Zvan

Analiese Miller, by Ben Zvan

I was, I admit. But there are worse things to be shamed into getting off my ass and posting about.

Ben Zvan is an excellent photographer, and Analiese Miller is a lovely subject. She’s also part of the Quiche Moraine crew.

Ana needs your assistance. She’s trying to get a walk-on part on the TV show Mad Men, and you need to go vote for her (once a day).

Do it. Do it now. Otherwise, I’ll call you a dirty accommodationist.

From whence came the art:

That image of Analiese Miller was taken by Ben Zvan, who begs you to go vote for her! (And also took the great head-shot of me that adorns the right sidebar of this blog, by the way.)

Dear Moderate Christian

Pink Rose, by Lou FCD @ Flickr

Pink Rose, by Lou FCD @ Flickr

Dear Moderate Christian,

I’d like to take a moment to address some of your remarks about how the tactics of “New Atheists” are just too uncivil. I appreciate that you’d like to have a quiet, intellectual conversation regarding the current state of  religion in America, and the marginalization of those of us who don’t believe there is an invisible zombie who lives in the sky. I understand that you’d like me to respect your beliefs, and not shine too much light on their ridiculousness. I applaud your geniality in this matter. It’s refreshing, after so many years of listening to your representatives demeaning and demonizing pretty much everyone who doesn’t bend their neck and genuflect to them. A polite, intellectual conversation about religion in America sounds perfectly lovely.

But at this point in time, I have to say

(What I have to say continues below the fold)

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Boss Lady

To wit:

Chew On It, by Lou FCD @ Flickr

Chew On It, by Lou FCD @ Flickr

Jane had to help open a new store up in Mt. Olive, NC the other day, and since she was to be there late that evening, the company paid for a hotel room for the night. She was kind enough to indulge my photographic nagging.

More photos of Jane from the hotel room below the fold.

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