I’m having one of those, sensory overload, exhausted yet giddy moments… sometimes we all need to step pretty far out of our daily lives to simultaneously reset, reflect, and find inspiration in the unexpected. For the next 5 days, i’m hiding out in the Lembeh Strait of Sulawesi, Indonesia… and they have awesome wifi, so when i’m not drop dead tired or diving exploring all the creatures around… the regularly scheduled content may be coming on vacation with me! So today was a morning flight to Manado from Singapore, followed by a 1.5 hour van ride through Bitung out to the dive spot, and now i’m curled up in my adorable cottage at Kungkungan Bay Resort. Certainly quite the contrast to the design overload i’m looking forward to in Milan in a few weeks! Although i thought about crashing after the day of travel, when i stared out at the possibly full moon with the intense clouds over the ocean… i couldn’t help taking a few pics, and i’m so in love with the view, i had to share them with you before i got some sleep! Isn’t it amazing how the palm trees and clouds look in the moonlight? See a few more pics of the night… some of the view on the flight in… and another random pic or too…
On unexpected surprises… did you know the Soho Grand Hotel will provide you with a roommate? An adorable little black goldfish? Strangely though, no food… i guess i will have to trust that housekeeping comes by and feeds the little guy? Their cheeky website says “If travelers cannot bring their pets, the Soho Grand offers surrogate animal companionship in the form of a goldfish in your guestroom.”
For those that asked on twitter ~ no i haven’t named it. No need to get attached, i don’t think i get to bring him with me to london… But i do wonder if there’s a mysterious room in the hotel somewhere with wall to wall goldfish bowls… do they really have enough for EVERY room? Or if you have two kids, can you request two? Or can you ask for two in the same bowl just so they dont get lonely while you’re out? Cute idea though ~ providing a bit more life to often sterile feeling hotel spaces! See more pics on the next page…
On unexpected inspiration and another random close up look at Oxford… how about some Moss and Spiders? And also praying mantis and silk worms… (And yes, moss fascinates me, remember the Singapore Moss?) So here are some fun little adorable moss clumps on the bridge… and then a huge spider that i found there too… then exploring into some of the zoology labs where i was whisked away to see some very cool (and insanely fly/web filled) space of pretty massive spiders and silk worms which are being researched to understand the magic of their silky webs… see the many pics on the next page!
On random Monday inspiration from Oxford (out here for Justine’s phd graduation!) we took a walk over to The Goldfish Bowl, and since my camera was with me, i couldn’t help shooting some of the adorable underwater creatures… you have got to check out the adorable turtles and rather pissed ray and much more!
I was heading to Petaluma from the Broad Summit ~ and just as i was getting out of Sebastapol i did a double take, pulled the car over, made a u-turn, and popped into California Carnivores in hopes it was open (it was late afternoon on a sunday) ~ and it WAS! And it is AMAZING. Apparently it is the “largest carnivorous plant shop in the united states”!!! AND omg. wow. you HAVE to see how stunning (and huge) this place and their plants and their kiddie pools filled with more plants in the process are… Good news is that they are carnivorous plant obsessed, extremely informative, super nice, and you can order online and they will ship anywhere in the US (he was even describing their intense packing process for shipping, and after hearing about it i’m confident to order more soon!) ~ but for now, i couldn’t resist and currently have a box of 4 in my car… SO beautiful. They are so incredibly inspiring, take a peek at the pics of many species i have never seen up close before!
On unexpected discoveries, next time you’re up in wine country california style ~ California Carnivores is a definite stop not to be missed!
So now you’ve seen the creatures of the California Academy of Sciences ~ ready to see what the scene was like for NightLife (their Thurs late night party/events ~ with drinks, food, djs, and more)… basically imagine going to an incredibly awesome museum/science center… but no kids! and the scene is like a 25-55 singles/date night! and as the evening progresses, the drunkeness runs a bit rampant… definitely have to feel for the poor museum folks who had to chase a few inebriated folks through the rather steep planetarium… and those starfish in the tidepools where it’s one hand in the tank and the other holding your beer with your arm around your girl… Interesting scene. And BEAUTIFUL space! Definitely worth doing the VIP tour if you’ve never been, since you get some behind the scenes sneak peeks, checking out the roof in a tiny group of about 15, skipping the rainforest queue, a look in the Vault, reserved passes for the planetarium show (and they let you in first!)… oh, and open bar too. Anyhow, take a peek at the experience!
So many pictures i didn’t even know where to start ~ while in SF, i finally got to check out the California Academy of Sciences ~ did the Nightlife VIP tour (really, if you can, its perfect! You actually get to have the fun of Nightlife, but without the lines, so you can see everything in the few hours ~ including reserved spots for the planetarium ~ and an open bar)… The space is beautiful! So first, CREATURES! A look at some of the critters encountered… and in the next post you can check out the space… check out the pics on the next page! Everything from (what look like) hummingbird lollipops, frogs galore, living walls, albino gators, dino poop and more…
Ok, so you’ve seen the warning signs, and here are the animals of the LA Zoo! We brought the 40D and the 5D Mark II ~ so these are a mix of pics that both dan and i took while wandering around… hilarious the expressions some of these guys make… and the eyes! And the crazy shenanigans some of them try to get up to… like the orangutan that threads the swing rope through the fence to whip more plants towards itself… and the giraffe with its tongue!!! Anyhow, check out a bunch (ok, 25!) pics on the next page!
NOTCOT Note: SO, jealous that linhchi (shade elaine) had a chance to get into the California Academy of Sciences! But luckily she took some gorgeous pics to share her experience with us!
I’d been waiting for the new California Academy of Sciences to open in Golden Gate Park for over a year, and when opening weekend finally rolled around late in September, I wasn’t willing to combat the crowds. Luckily the company I work for was invited to a party there (hosted by AOL) this past Monday evening, and though we didn’t get to check out the entire place, it was awesome being able to wander around the rain forest dome (I missed the planetarium show!) and get a glimpse of the other parts without enormous amounts of people, and to get a unique view of the place at night! My favorite pic (you’ll see it after the jump) is from inside the rain forest dome looking up at the ceiling & lights. I’ll definitely have to go back and check out the entire place for real. See a lot more pics after the jump!
Remember those amazing photographs of nudibranchs David Doubilet shot for National Geographic where i couldn’t stop gushing about how amazing they were on pure white, like a model or product? Well in our ever shrinking world, i get an email from my globetrotting explorer of a dad, who happened to be in Manado at the Lembeh Strait on North Sulawesi, Indonesia at the Kungkungan Bay Resort scuba diving ~ with pictures of him holding the mini underwater studio setups David Doubilet used for those shoots! He even said that the resort folks were encouraging him to use them, but he decided they were too much of a hassle, but thankfully he took some pics to indulge my curiosity about the set up.
On the next page you can see more pics of the mini studio, as well as some of his scuba diving discoveries i loved ~ i’ve picked out my favorites of my dad’s nudibranchs and frog fish pics!
VIDEO (on the next page)! So i woke up bright and early this sunday morning and decided to wander around Paris, quickly realizing that stores weren’t really open today, i went hunting for outdoor markets once the rain stopped, and found myself wandering around St Germain for some time, crossing through Notre Dame… and as i turned, i heard tons of sqwaking, and followed the sounds… i ended up in the most bizarre and amazing little outdoor flower and bird market, which apparently also has ferrets, chipmunks, chinchillas, piles of hamsters, super fluffy bunnies, all kinds of beautiful little birds, and even a poor little yorkie decked out in more denim than most people…
See the video for the best feel of the craziness, and lots of pics on the next page!
Nudibranchs ~ i’ve been obsessed with these gorgeous creatures since my first dives as a kid in south east asia. David Doubilet ~ i grew up on his breath taking photography. Combine them ~ and video ~ and National Geographic… and i’ve been swooning over this Nudibranch feature on the National Geographic website for days now. So looking beyond the subject matter for a moment, from a photographic/design perspective… what really struck me about this series of photos, was the process! Seldom do you see these beautiful (tiny) little slug like creatures pop off so vibrantly on a perfectly white background… they look more like supermodels in a photo studio… so watching the video blew my mind to see that David Doubilet and his team actually went diving with a portable studio that they brought TO the nudibranches, shooting them where they found them, and only moving them when they weren’t doing any complicated nudibranch activities (mating, feeding, etc). See the full gallery here, and see some of my favorites as well as the set up they used on the next page!
Catherine Ledner is known for her incredible animal portraiture that gorgeously paired with beautiful wallpapers and color palettes… in fact she’s even been featured twice on .org - her site as #4667 and her NYTimes Slideshow with images from her book “Animal House” as #7345. Now, i’m excited to announce that she’s created a new site Catherine’s Animals where you can order limited edition prints of these animal portraits!
Each image is available in 4 sizes - 100 of 11”x14” at $250, 20 of 16”x20” at $500, 20 of 20”x24” at $750, and 10 of 32”x40” at $1700. See more of my favorites on the next page!
Polyface Farm ~ it was one of the few pit stops we’ve made here in Virginia while visiting family… and WOW. While i will openly admit, i know little about sustainable agriculture and farms - dan has been raving about this place and their philosophies and systems ever since he read “Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan (where the author actually lived on the farm for 2 weeks to fully understand their incredible process!)
“At Polyface, we want every animal to eat as much salad (green material) as its full genetic potential will allow”
Knowing i can’t do the full story justice, consider this post a launching board to poke those of you who are remotely interested to find out more… but here’s my quick version. First thing to grab me driving up was definitely the logo ~ such a cute entrance sign! With the fish in the chicken in the cow in the tree! Poly-face certainly makes a lot of sense with its multifaceted farming. Essentially the beauty of this farm is its earth/life centered approach, which thrives on a fantastic sense of balance achieved through understanding what these animals and plants need to thrive year round ~ instead of optimizing for speed or fattening things up, they’ve managed to create a sustainable farm in harmony. Most of their species are in a rotation - to keep the cows from overgrazing and consuming their own waste, to give the chickens a chance to pick through and find all the best grubs as well as feed, to turn pigs into “Pigaerators” (tasty corn ferments encourage them to aerate all fertilizer for the farm naturally), water that is collected in their various ponds and wells from winter runoff keep them self-reliant, and so much more i can’t even begin to explain. And from a design perspective, i was fascinated reading about the ways they utilize mobile electric fences and Eggmobiles to facilitate this whole process!
Bottom line? The eggs, sausage, and bacon i tasted were truly incredibly tasty and worth the drive (if you go out there, def get the apple juice too, we thought the jug was HUGE, but it disappeared in about a day - who knew even the toddlers would love it so much?)… the family running the farm was intelligent, kind, and passionate about every aspect of their process, and eager to share their wisdom. If you make it to these parts, you definitely want to roadtrip over and try some of the goods - since they are only available there, and in select restaurants nearby! So, continue your journey, read more about Polyface Farm here!
i was out wandering far out in the fields visiting some chickens and their adorable, huge guard dog ~ and got caught in a thunderstorm, which left me completely drenched in a little green sundress ~ so not as many pictures as i would have liked to show you on the next page - but i was a bit preoccupied with the wetness and protecting the camera! Still - some fun ones! (and big thanks to Robert Frysinger for contributing some of his pics as well.)
Have you noticed that when i go on “vacation” and attempt to take a break, it doesn’t exactly mean a complete break from posting (versus other sites)? Rather, it’s more like you get dragged along on the break with me ~ and get to see “vacation” content of sorts? Well i hope you don’t mind, but here’s one more to amuse you!
So i’ve been in Virginia the last few days ~ Earlysville/Charlottesville to be precise ~ and its been interesting, i never thought i’d find vermont so designy and inspiring ~ but Virginia, not so much. It has however been an incredible place to run into TONS of critters of all shapes and sizes ~ from gaggles and gaggles of canadian goslings/geese, deers - eating and running through the forest, a huge Northern Black Racer - Coluber constrictor (it was getting attacked by mocking birds in the driveway when we got back!), an awesome little toad, turtles (big and little! attacking a half fish), tons of fish, a heron, caught some frogs eggs, put some reservoir bryozoans in the fish tank, chipmunks, squirrels, bunnies, blue tailed skinks, beaver dams (but no beavers…), chickens, cows, and other livestock… and much more as we went on a canoe trip on the reservoir, little hikes and walks, and just finding things in the yard!
I think i’m also getting sick possibly, and/or ready to get back to socal (its been about 3 weeks away now i think)… so i wanted to do more posts for you tonight, but really just having a hard time staying awake and upright at the moment. So next best thing? I thought perhaps you’d like a little photo series on the next page to get a feel for what Virginia has been like for me, and how pretty and nature filled the trip has been! Enjoy! Theoretically i’ll be driving up to Washington DC and hopping a plane to LA on the 3rd…