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!
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Vacation time is finally setting in ~ at least in my head! Freshly back from spending the day at the LA Zoo with old friends, seriously haven't been there since i was a little kid, and from what i saw, doesn't look like its changed all that much... seems a bit dated, and perhaps because it was so cold (but luckily SUNNY! and not rainy!) was pretty quiet, but we did get to see quite a few animal feedings and packs of little kids...
First post from there ~ i was so amused by the old warning signage! So here's a look at signage at the LA Zoo! See the pics on the next page!
I think i've found the perfect stocking stuffer for kids!!! Or it's what i'll be resorting to when i need random little gifts, that are not only really fun and amusing but educational and awesomely packaged! Copernicus Toys is a wondrous playground of all the fun sciencey toys and gizmos and puzzles i loved as a kid, and they've recently launched this great line of Compact Curiosities! Adorable packaging ~ nice clean fonts/graphics/colored labels on the translucent 4x6" pouches... definite points for the shiny object factor...
And it gets better! Inside these packets are old favorites from Monster Balloons and Vortex devices (you know, the ones you put between two 1L soda bottles!) to dissectable Owl Pellets and Geodes to crack open! Also incredibly affordable ranging from 3$-12$ (most are 3$-6$)! See closeups of the whole line on the next page!
Ok, Marcia, you win. Best birthday surprise ever ~ mysterious creepy flower guy tapping on the glass door ~ card in handwriting i can't recognize with just a "Happy Birthday Jean. Here's to another year of fun!"... signed Marcia? But it looked strangely more like Maria? (Florists! You need better handwriting!) And then there's the flowers ~ awesomest mix of orchids, roses, moss, and.... WTF is that really awesome hairy ball? Do i have to feed it?
Sooooo that turns into an adventure calling the florist, who of course says they know nothing and got the order through the internet... but does say that those hairy green balls of awesome are... MONKEY BALLS! And then a few more back and forth emails, Marcia confirms it's her, but the florists calls her to confirm she can tell me her name, and then calls me back as Marcia emails me to say the florist called... in between all of that i shot a bunch of pictures of this incredible bundle on my desk to share with you.
I'm also currently googling Monkey Balls, which is not coming up with many things that look at all like this... anyone got a scientific name for these things for me? Enjoy the pics on the next page! And Marcia, thanks again!!! SO awesome, best way to get me to stop working and get totally giddy... hehe. THANKS!
UPDATE: Jump to pics of the opened up balls!
This guide is partially for pets, partially for green thumbs, partially for nature enthusiasts, and really just a scramble of nature inspired/related amusement floating around my lists! Click the products to browse the next page as usual!
TO WIN: Leave a comment here ~ tell me some animal/adventure story? ENTER BY 11/26. WINNER: Jeremy in Alexandria, VA!
Not to be biased or anything, but i am so giddy about this giveaway even more than any of the others so far! This was a late addition, cooked up over late night emails with Otter X (aka Patrick Ma, founder of Rocket World and T.A.D. Gear) ~ where upon ordering myself an early bday present in the form of the awesomest fleecy hoodie EVER, he offered to give one away to you guys too! And mine came on friday, and the temp dropped ridiculously at night, and its the coziest thing ever... so i'm even wearing it NOW!
So here's the Rocket World Shag Master Creature Hoodie (what a name, right?) - its the third in a line of exclusive fleeces from Rocketworld (pics of the first two on the next page!)... the biggest difference for me is that this one is versatile with its removable bear ears (which can also be switched for horns or anything you can make and velcro on!) - so less commitment to being an instant-furry with the full face and claws! These hoodies are the perfect combination for those of us who adore the Rocket World IWG well armed animal toys and the high quality tactical gear of TAD Gear. This is a variation of the original T.A.D. Gear Shag Master fleece. If there's one thing you can't miss about Patrick, his attention for detail is impeccable ~ combine that with his love of toys, nature, product design and a background in the army... is it really surprising that even this Creature Hoodie has had orders heading to soldiers in Iraq and A-stan as well as hollywood studios? His clientele on any given day ranges from die hard toy collectors to special forces, so you can only imagine. ANYHOW... you know i can rant on for eons about how incredible the company and products are, but lets move on to showing you all the details and fun photos of them skating at night with the hoodies on the next page, and to win one (he'll drop ship it in your size!) leave a comment with some adventure/animal tales!
Now, back to the gift that Justine received at the National Geographic first ever retail store opening... Firstly, from a design perspective, i love that NatGeo takes their yellow so seriously, from the magazine, to the bags, to the wrapping paper... and i'm impressed that they pleated their wrapping paper! (See the pic on the next page!)...
As for what's inside, it might be one of the coolest gifts you could give someone this holiday season! The Genographic Project Public Participation Kit!
Quick description of The Genographic Project: "The Genographic Project is a global research partnership of National Geographic and IBM. With support for field research from the Waitt Family Foundation, Dr. Spencer Wells and a group of the world's leading scientists will attempt to collect and analyze more than 100,000 DNA samples from indigenous people all over the world. The goal of The Genographic Project is to learn about the migratory paths our ancestors took and how humankind populated the planet."
In this very CSI looking kit, you get a DVD about the project, a map of the migratory history of man, buccal swab kit, and a confidential ID# to access your results! See more pics of the kit on the next page, and i guess we'll see if Justine chooses to share her results with us!
Ok, i need a teleportation device. Please! Today, National Geographic opens their first retail space and it is a 3 story 1,800 square metre world of its own on London's Regent Street. We were lucky enough to get an invite to the launch party, but i was unlucky enough not to be able to teleport over for this stunning event! However, my sister, Justine (Rugenius) and her boyfriend, were kind enough to take a break from her PhD thesis writing to pop over and give us her take of it... and i think her animal loving, scientifically minded side really came out and fell in love with the space! She even has me excited about the upcoming talks, as well as dying to go shop the store in person...
So here's the deal, she's done a very thorough, visual walkthrough of the store for you on the next page, and she sent me SO many pictures that i've pulled out a few for the post, but you can view them all in Gallery NOTCOT. A few standout things to take note of? The layouts! Incredibly fun use of crates, industrial feeling containers, gorgeous gallery spaces... no one will be able to resist going into the magical red chamber with the GIANT block of ice to try on cold weather gear, and see where their heat is escaping on the screen... it looks like whether you're planning a trip, looking for an adventure, or just escaping for a quick snack, this museum-esque store is going to be a hit. So, check out our first look 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!
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!
[Above is my latest new toy - a mis-colored helmeted Astro-Krieg Rhino and my random capsule machine egg/rabbit at the fireplace in Park Chow] Next time you're in the SF area, you MUST stop by T.A.D. Gear at 660 22nd Street in SF - what they don't show you in their pics of the store is the Rocket World section, which is like the holy grail of Rocket World I.W.G toys and prints, and not only do they do all online fulfillment for both brands in this space but also have their design studio upstairs! So on the next page, i have a peek at the store, the gallery space, and the design studios... if you thought Shepard Fairey's studios were cool, you'll drool at how inspiring this space is!
So before the onslaught of images to walk you through our experience at the incredible converted warehouse space, here are a few quick points to note.
1) For anyone that like the great outdoors (or is a special op, or just likes being well shielded from the extremities), but has a NOTCOT type of aesthetic (love matte black? lack of logos? incredible attention to every detail?) - you have to check out T.A.D. Gear's jackets, pants, and backpacks before you reach for the next Patagonia catalog. Dan just ran off with his to Burning Man, so i'll try to get you some detail pics later.
2) If you don't need the hardcore gear, they have an amazingly well curated selection of quality outdoor accessories that had me giddy to shop even though i didn't really need more mini flashlights, otter boxes, knives, dental floss, and more...
3) Sure stores like A16 are all rugged and designy in their own right, but T.A.D. Gear feels museum-esque as you browse through the space - which leads to
4) Rocket World I.W.G creatures have their own dedicated section, and while at first it may sound odd to have some of the coolest vinyl toys showcased and designed by the same crew that makes some of the most impressive tactical gear i've seen... if you go, it will all make sense. Especially once you find out that Patrick Ma (aka "Otter X") has a background ranging from the army to a masters in art, a love of the animal kingdom to a calling towards fashion design... is it any wonder that all of his passions have perfectly fused into an incredibly well kept secret lair of custom designed tactical gear as well as some of the cutest most detailed badass animal toys out there?
Ok, sorry i'm rambling, but as you can tell, i was totally giddy there - blown away by the products and toys initially, and from a business/inspirational perspective, hearing Patrick's background and philosophies on business and how he's managed to keep focus on doing what he loves (as many varying things as that may be) for over 10 years now, without giving in to the many temptations to sell out along the way and still be extremely successful - especially when you're pursuing new and uncharted concepts/ideas!
Go see the pics on the next page!
Cleaning through Comic-con pics ~ as far as purchases go ~ these little guys were truly irresistible! the Rocket World Insurgent Wilderness Gruppo (aka I.W.G) crew in shrunken zipper pulls and airborne paratroopers! So here are some quick pics of the booth, the toys (i couldn't help myself and had to open them up at lunch, so yes, that's a fork in the pic - and a few so so pics from the hotel), and the packaging... adorably tiny boxes for all of these!
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!
On the #1 thing i'm looking forward to at Comi-con (is it silly if i day trip to SD just for these?) ~ Rocket World's Insurgents Wilderness Gruppo ~ super armed yet oh so adorable creatures in the tiniest form yet! As blindbox zipper pulls and parachuters! The Zipper Pull Series will be about 1" tall, and including the original three I.W.G. members, there will also be human skulls, for a total of 17 colorways, two of which will be mystery chase figures! The Airborne Series of parachuters will be about 1.5" tall with high quality parachutes, and a total 15 colorways between the three characters, including TWO mystery chase figures! Anyhow, these are just a peek at what is to come at sdcc this year! More pictures on the next page, as well as pics of the making of...
I was just introduced to Prairie Vodka this morning via email, and although i have yet to try this supposed organic goodness, i'm absolutely smitten with the photography, website, and branding! It's gorgeous! So they really run with the Prairie meets the City theme ~ and have these breathtaking images of a woman on her NY patio with the city behind and the wolves at her side... and then the gentleman in his plush red chair at the fireplace with his bison... and then the subtle details and styling of the logo and site... *swoon*... and then you must see the actual bottle design as well, so sleek and simple. Even the transitions... to have the wolf walk up, and breathe on the screen till it gets foggy and fades into the next page... little silly, but an interesting approach! Is it any wonder that Prairie recently received a gold medal at the 2008 Los Angeles International Wine & Spirit Awards, as well as "Best Overall Design" and "Best Package of Show"? See more screenshots and imagery on the next page... and read more on Prairie Vodka at their site.
P.S. i'm so distracted by the prettiness of the visuals, that i'm saving discussing the organic and kosher aspects of it and the unique partnership between Phillips Distilling Company and a co-op of over 900 Minnesota farmers who are stakeholders in the brand - for a product review to come!
How beautiful are these "hand-foiled plant labels" that design*sponge received from The Modern Gardener? They are the most darling popsicle sticks i've ever seen! Handmade by London artist, Kim Jenkins, they come in 10 packs for 5 pounds a pack.
We can't go Whaleless! The Strychnin Gallery London will be opening the international group show, Whaleless, on July 11th! It contains a fun selection of pieces all reminding us how much we love whales, and that we need to help save them ~ a portion of the sales will be donated to Greenpeace. I've rounded up some of my favorites from the show on the next page for you to preview!
SPORE! SPORN [nsfw]! And all the madness that has flown around the internets over the launch of the Spore Creature Creator. Since the Spore folks asked us to make a creature for the Spore Vote site - no, i'm no Sporelebrity, just a mere More Spore if i ever get my creatures sorted out and sent in to them. On a side note, how funny are their Sporelebrities? You have the webby kids from Digg, Arrington, iJustine, Scoble, Veronica Belmont - and then tv actors like the OC guy, Alias guy, Sabrina the teenage witch, old saved by the bell guy... and stan lee and emeril... Yes yes, i know they have names, but just surveying the group made me laugh this lazy Saturday.
SO, back to the Spore Creatures ~ dan started challenging me to make "cute" ones that weren't what nightmares were made of... and then creatures with "fewest vertebrae possible" (turns out that is 2)... and other silly tasks, so in trying out the high res picture taking and video capturing... check out a few of my silly creatures (and vid!) on the next page... i've also added the video of the f*ck slug, which is a great example of Spore Typography!
Oooooh on things to look forward to, the Corey Helford Gallery in Culver City will be showing Carlos Ramos' "Natural History Museum Part I" with the opening on June 28th! It's his first solo show! I've been looking forward to this show for a while, and Boing Boing posted a link to the preview ~ so i had to share after gushing over them for a bit...
For those who don't know - he's a Burbank native with a character animation degree from California Institute of the Arts, and has worked with Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and Walt Disney Studios... he was even an art director for one of my favorite cartoons EVER - Dexter's Laboratory! Also worked on Chalkzone, Time Squad, and more... for the ultimate inspiration - check out his sketchbook on his site... on the next page are some of my favorites i'm looking forward to seeing at the show!
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!
So. Cute. Adfunture has teamed up with quite the lineup: DITA Eyewear, Staple Design, Suitman, Revelator, Black Cross, GUE and Puma, to create this 100 piece limited edition series of YOKA SC Edition. The 10-inch tall vinyl figure will be put up for sale on June 12th, 2008. $100usd each, and only 100 pieces will be available. All sales will be donated to Red Cross Society of China. It's absolutely beautiful, and a gorgeous gesture on all of their parts to help with the tragedy in China... i particularly like the puma branding on his feet. More images 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...
As if you don't already think i'm strange enough ~ that NY trip for design week, which branched off into a roadtrip up to play in the woods in vermont... has been extended a few more days, and from vermont, we kind of decided to spontaneously drive down to Earlysville, Virginia... which is where i'm now posting from! If there's one thing i've learned/realized during this little random adventure, it's that for me, inspiring design details pop up nearly everywhere everyday in my life, and whether that's at ICFF or while driving for 10+ hours straight down New England... design is omnipresent, and what really keeps me going.
On that note, my silly exciting find of the day yesterday was after about 8-9 hours of straight driving, stuck in INSANE traffic in NY that was moving at about 20 mph for over 2 hours, and i found myself staring at large semis and their various mud flaps and signage and the typography on them... and then i saw it. Mudflaps with FLYING MOOSE! Forget unicorns and pegasuses... flying moose! I forced dan to try and take a pic of it with his iphone (which i will have to bother him later to get it off)... the one we saw was like the one in the bottom left, it seemed friendlier than what appears to be the newer version on their site now.
So continuing on the Jackalope theme of north american mythological creatures... we sat in traffic discussing the idea of flying moose, and then reading up on the background of the Manac Trucking/Trailer Manufacturer which had this awesome creature as their logo. Turns out that this magnificent creature comes from a native american legend! Very cute tale, read it on the next page, and also see a picture i found of the statue of the Manac flying moose logo!