Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Loch Ness Speech + Brief Art Update

Tonight we gave our persuasive speeches. I went over. I didn’t think I was going to be able to fill the 6 to 8 minutes, but I ended up going over 9 minutes. Annoyed I was not happy. Anyway, for those of you who might be curious here is the speech as I wrote it. No pictures, because I used pictures from books instead of putting together a slide show.

Waves without wind,
A fish without a fin,
And a floating island.
These are the words to an old legend about Loch Ness, an enormous lake in the hills of Northern Scotland.
For centuries the people around the loch would see things in there. They would talk about it amongst themselves, but not with outsiders. After all, the notion of a massive creature it the water does sound a little crazy. But this all changed in 1933 when a new road was built. With all the new traffic around the lake, more people who did not live there started to see something in the water, and they weren’t quiet about it like the residents of the area. The first big news sighting was by a couple named Mr. and Mrs John Mackay who were driving home along the new road. Mrs Mackay was looking out over the loch when she saw a violent commotion out in the water and two black humps rise out of the water. The back hump was bigger than the front, and together they stretched about twenty feet. She grabbed her husband who slammed on the brakes, and they watched the creature until it dove beneath the surface making a huge wave that rolled to the shore. At first they didn’t want to tell anyone about it because they were owners of an inn, and they were afraid that they would be accused by people of inventing the story to get business for their inn. Eventually they did tell a friend of theirs, a man named Alex Campbell, the warden in charge of protecting the salmon fishing on the loch. Having the job that he did, he also had seen things out in the Loch, and a few days after he talked to the Mackays he saw it himself again. He described it as having a long tapering neck about 6 feet long, and a massive hump behind it that was about thirty feet long. After this, he decided that it was time to start reporting these sightings. Mr. Campbell was also a reporter for a local newspaper, so he wrote the story himself. His editor said that if the creature was as big as he and the Mackays claimed, then it was a real monster. And that’s how the Loch Ness Monster got its name.
If there is something in the loch, what is it? The most popular theory is that it is actually a plesiosaur, or rather, many plesiosaurs, since it would be impossible for one animal to survive all throughout the centuries. The many descriptions given for the creature seem to all fit this theory as most people who claim to have seen it describe a massive creature with a long neck that stretches out of the water. Others, who claim to have seen the creature exit the water and come ashore, have described a giant seal with a long neck, which is also the same basic shape as a plesiosaur.
But what if it isn’t real as so many people claim? What have all these people been seeing? The most common accusation seems to be that people just see a big floating log, and their imaginations run away with them. And as for all the pictures taken most are so blurry that it is very hard to tell what exactly you are looking at in the picture. The ones that are clearer are all dismissed as hoaxes. None can be proven one way or the other.
There have also been many attempts to locate the monster with sonar scanners, and some have indeed detected something down there, but people also refute this as evidence for a creature saying that it could just be a school of fish. In the late 1960’s there was an incident that gave skeptics further fuel for refuting underwater photographic evidence. According to Jeanne Bendick, author of “The Mystery of the Loch Ness Monster, plans were put in motion to film a Sherlock Holmes movie about the monster in the loch. They had a fake monster which was pulled by a submarine. They never finished the film, because the monster broke away from the submarine and sank. They tried to recover it, but the monster was never found. Skeptics can now claim that underwater pictures and sonar contacts are not of the real Loch Ness Monster, but of the lost movie monster. The only problem is, this does not account for a picture taken on one of the Sonar research expeditions. The equipment detected a huge fast moving object, and snapped a picture of what appears to be a massive flipper attached to a body. If it were the missing movie prop, why would it have been moving so fast?
One good thing did come for Monster enthusiasts from this incident, the beginnings to an answer to the question of how creatures of that size could stay so well hidden for centuries. During the search for the movie monster they discovered an unexpected trench over 900 feet deep. Later side sonar scans showed evidence of caves in the steep sides of the loch. If there is air in these caves they would be the perfect habitat for these massive creatures. This survey also showed that there were massive channels in the bottom of the loch. With all these prospective hiding places it is easy to believe that Nessie can stay hidden as long as he wants.
Nessie may be the most famous, but he is far from the only monster to be spotted in a large body of water. In Their series “Strange and Unexplained Happenings” Authors Jerome Clark and Nancy Pear tell about many different “Monsters” found in large bodies of water. All over the world there are tales of other creatures living in swamps, lakes, and rivers. None of these creatures are recognized by science because, like Nessie, no one has been able to get a clear photograph of them. One of the most famous of these “Lake monsters” is a creature affectionately known as “Champ”. Champ is said to live in Lake Champlain, a one hundred mile long lake between Vermont and New York. According to cryptid researchers Halls, Spears, and Young, stories of a horned serpent living in the lake go back hundreds of years. Native American tribes from both sides of the lake had stories of a creature that lived there. Despite the ancient stories being of a horned creature, the blurry photographic evidence shows a creature similar to Nessie. The best photograph of Champ was taken by a woman in 1977. While swimming with her family Sandra Mansi saw a long neck rise out of the water and begin to look around. She ran to get her camera from the car and snapped a picture of it before she pulled her kids out of the water and fled. Fear of ridicule forced her to hide the picture for years, until she met Joseph Zarzinsky, a man who researched Champ. After speaking with him, she got up the courage to reveal the photograph, and in June of 1981 it was published in the New York Times. As a result, Champ’s popularity has since skyrocketed. Lawmakers in both New York and Vermont have even passed laws making Champ a protected species. No one knows if he exists, but if he does, they don’t want hunters and thrill seekers going out and killing him.
All throughout history sailors have reported seeing massive creatures at sea. Some of these, like the giant squid, have eventually been proven by science to be more than just a myth. There are many examples given in Monsters of the deep by Stuart Ross. While there is still not enough evidence to prove that Nessie exists, to write it off as just a story without proof, is just as foolish as believing something is there with no evidence to prove it. Even if no one ever comes up with conclusive proof, it is still exciting to think of the possibility of something there, deep in the Loch.
Next week is our very last speech class! This is where we will be doing our panel discussions. I am looking forward to this much more than any of my speeches, because instead of it being just me giving a speech all by myself, it’s going to be a group of us, and we are going to be discussing cryptozoology, one of my all time favorite topics.
Remember how I was all excited because I wasn’t going to have to do any more self portraits in my Drawing class? Well guess what our final project is for Design 1. That’s right, a self portrait. Yay. This one will be more than a basic pencil drawing. We are to pick a medium that we feel we need improvement on. I don’t know what I will pick yet. I hope I can make it look like me, because that is a requirement for the project. “It must be recognizable as you.” Wish me luck…

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Collages, A Group project, and Speech Class

I got my collages back that I was working on a few weeks ago. To refresh your memories I’ll put up my rough sketches again before I show the finished products.



These were all to be done in black and white. We had black and grey construction paper and white cardstock.
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For the one with the arithmetic symbols I wanted them to look 3D, but I wanted them to be white on a black background, so I cut out the symbols from a piece of black construction paper, and glued it to the cardstock. Then I used grey pieces to make it look 3D. For the last one I had to cut slits in the circles so I could link them into a chain, but I didn’t want the slits in the picture, so I glued them together in such a way so the slits would be hidden. It turned out better than I thought it would.
The project that we are working on now is a group project. Joel and I are thankfully together, and there are two others in our group. We were lucky to be allowed to pick out our own group members. Joel and I were a bit worried about it because there are a lot of people who just don’t show up for class. All the people in our group are people who are always there. The assignment was pretty broad. We can do anything we want as long as we each do a piece of art that goes together with everyone else's to create one composition. I suggested that since there were four of us we each do a different season. The girl in our group then suggested that we line up our drawings so that they make one long picture. I think it’s going to look really interesting, especially because the other guy is going to do collage. I am doing pens and markers, the girl is doing colored pencils, and Joel is doing pencils. We are thinking about having each medium sort of bleed into each other’s drawings, so it’s going to be interesting to see what it looks like when we finish.
It looks like we only have two weeks left of school! I’m not sure of the schedules for the other classes yet, but in my online Psychology, and our speech class it’s just two weeks. Next week we have to give our persuasive speeches. As you know I’m doing mine on the Loch Ness Monster. Last night I turned in my outline for the speech.

Jonathan North
11/23/10
Public Speaking
Topic: The Loch Ness Monster is Real!
Purpose: To convince the audience of the existence of the Loch Ness Monster.
Central Idea: For centuries there have been sightings of a creature in Loch Ness, and in other bodies of water around the world. There is something out there. Science just doesn’t know what it is.
Introduction
I. For hundreds of years there have been sightings of a creature in Loch Ness.
II. Something is in there!
Transition: What is it?
Body
I. It could be a plesiosaur.
II. There have been some photographs taken of it.
III. It might be an elaborate hoax.
III. Nesse is not the only creature that has been seen in large bodies of water.
IV. There have been creatures spotted in lakes right here in our own country.
V. Going back even further in time, sailors reported huge monsters at sea.
Transition: Now that you have more facts, what do you think?
Conclusion
I. Even if no one ever comes up with conclusive proof, it is still exciting to think of the possibility of something there, deep in the Loch.
 
I’m still not looking forward to it. I like the topic, I just don’t like speaking in front of people. Thankfully I have gotten to know everyone in the class, so it’s a little easier, but I still wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have to.
The last week we have to do a panel discussion. I was really glad that everyone in my panel agreed to my suggestion that we do cryptozoology. It will make it a lot easier because it’s another topic I am really interested in. We divided up our topics into four categories of cryptids, Myths that could be real, Out of place animals, extinct animals that could still be living, and former cryptids/myths that have now been proven to be real. I got extinct animals that could still be living for my area of expertise. That is my absolute favorite branch of cryptozoology, mainly because I have loved dinosaurs since I was a little kid, and the possibility that one or more might still be living is really exciting to me. I am not sure exactly how I am going to chronicle the panel discussion for my blog. It’s different than my other speeches. I always write out what I want to say beforehand, and then post that, but for the panel discussion, it’s more of an off the cuff discussion between me and four other classmates. I might see if it’s ok to film us. It’s going to be a long discussion though. We have to fill at least twenty minutes. If I do film it, I’ll probably have to split up the video. I think you tube has a time limit, and twenty minutes would probably be too much. Hopefully I’ll be able to do something. We’ll just have to see what happens.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Video Test: Cats!

I recently got a video camera and I have been filming just some random things. The other day I made a video of our cats, and I thought I’d test it out on my blog and see what happens. I’ve never uploaded my own videos before, so we’ll see how well this works.

 

Five hours later…

 

So far it hasn’t been going well… I have been trying to upload the video to You Tube all evening, but it hasn’t worked. It now is finally uploading, but it’s probably going to take most of the night, so maybe I will get this posted tomorrow morning before I leave for school. So, until then, goodnight!

 

The next morning…

 

It is still not done. The upload failed. I’ll have to work on it later after school. Maybe I can get it up tonight.

 

Tonight…

 

I opened it in windows movie maker and I saved the movie in the smallest size possible. We’ll see if it uploads, and if it does, how big will it be?

 

Well it seems as though it has finally worked! The video quality is passable, but not the greatest. It wasn’t meant to be anything more than a test, though, so next time, I will upload a little bigger file size.

 

So now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! A video of our cats!

Cats
Woo. Wasn’t that exciting? I hope the next time I do a video it will be a lot more interesting than this one.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Artwork Update

I finally got some of my artwork back today. It isn’t anything very impressive, but it did take me quite some time to do, due to needing to mix colors to achieve the right shades. The first one was supposed to be a composition consisting of three or four colors that we consider our favorites. It didn’t need to be anything specific, it could just be an abstract composition. I did my four favorite colors. Bright Yellow, Hot Pink, Dark Purple, and Jet Black.
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This is not completely accurate. My piece’s colors are far more vivid than here. They just don’t look the same on the computer screen.
The second composition was to consist of three or four colors we considered to be our least favorite. This was hard since I don’t dislike any colors. I chose three relatively gross colors to do, so the piece wouldn’t look good.
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Today we started work on 4 compositions that use color to convey ideas. Last week we drew thumbnail sketches, and today we started the actual pieces.
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We were given a list of words, and told to choose 4. I chose shy, majestic, diseased, and angry. He also told us to bring in a piece of fruit, or something without a face that we could transfer some sort of emotion, or personality to using color and setting. I chose an apple, because that was the only thing available in the fruit drawer. :p He said we had to do at least two different mediums, but I decided to do one for each picture. I am doing collage, acrylic paint, markers, and colored pencils. I bought myself new markers, and a good set of colored pencils the other day, so hopefully I will have better luck than with my cheap brand utensils that I’ve been using. The colored pencils are far superior to what I had before. The colors go on so much smoother and richer. I know they’ll work out much better. I also bought a small sketch book, so occasionally I will be posting some non-school related artwork that I do just for fun. I probably won’t have time to do many, but when I build up a few in the book, I’ll make a blog post out of them.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Loch Ness Questionnaire

We have now officially begun work on our persuasive speeches. Tonight our questionnaires were due. Going along with my fascination with cryptozoology, in my speech I am going to try to persuade people that the Loch Ness Monster is real. Yeah, I’m sure most of you think I’m crazy, but I’ll post my speech here after I write it, so you can see it’s not as crazy as it sounds. As with my last questionnaire, I tried to be really funny in how I wrote it. Everyone had to fill out a big pile of questionnaires from all the other students, so I figured they’d need at least one funny one to break up the monotony. Smile I’ll post it here for you to read. I based it off my other one so some of the questions are a little similar, but it’s pretty much all new material.

Questionnaire
Demographics Section
 
1. What is your Taxonomy? (Circle One)
a. Human
b. Animal
c. Vegetable
d. Mineral
 
2. How old aren’t you? (Circle as many as apply)
a. Baby-Type
b. Kid-Type
c. Teen-Type
d. Grown-Up-Type
e. Old-Type
f. Dead-Type
 

3. Please tell us about your mode of transportation.
 
4. Do you have any ethnicities? If so, please tell us about them. And don’t say white, because all politically correct people know that white is not an ethnicity. And don’t say black either, because all politically correct people know that saying a person’s skin color out loud is the most offensive thing you can do. You’re only allowed to say African-American, even if you’re from Europe, because all politically correct people know that that is the only way to not be offensive.
 
5. How much money do you make? You don’t have to tell us if you don’t want to, I guess. We’re just intrusively nosey.
 
6. Do you have any handicaps? Oh! Sorry! I am SO insensitive! You must be horribly offended at my shocking lack of politically-correct-ness! What I meant to ask was, are you handi-capable?
Yes No (Circle One)
 
Questionnaire
Main Topic Section
 

7. Have you heard of the Loch Ness Monster?
Yes No (Circle one)
 
8. On a scale of zero to ten, how much do you know about the Legend of the Loch Ness Monster?
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (Circle one)
 
9. Do you believe in the Loch Ness Monster?
Yes No      I don’t know, but I’m willing to keep an open mind. (Circle one)
 
Questions 10 through 18 are for believers only, and you are not allowed to answer them if you put no for question 9. If you put no and you answer any of the questions we will ship your survey to a hand-writing analysis expert who will decipher your true identity, and then we will come to your house in the dead of night, stuff you into a potato sack and take you to Lake Champlain, where you will be fed to Nessie’s cousin Champ. We’d feed you to Nessie herself, but we do not have enough money in the budget for a flight to Scotland, plus, Nessie hates American food. It gives her gas.
 
10. What do you believe the Loch Ness Monster Looks Like?
 
11. What do you believe the Loch Ness Monster is?
 

12. What do you believe to be true about the Loch Ness Monster? (Check as many as apply)
It is a dinosaur
It is a myth (If you check this answer, see above for what fate has in store for you!)
It is a magical creature
It is an extremely large fish
It is a bluebird on vacation from Chernobyl.
It is a whale
It’s just a fat dolphin
It is an alien that moved here from its ocean world of Pluto when Pluto froze over.
It is obviously Godzilla’s seafaring Grandmother. The rest of these answers are ridiculous!
I have absolutely no idea what it is!
 

On a scale of one to five tell me how much you agree with the following statements. (Circle one)
13. The Loch Ness Monster isn’t real.
I Completely disagree 1 2 3 4 5 I completely agree (Circling 5 could be hazardous to your health – See warning above)
 
14. There are many “monsters” that live all around the world that are probably the same species as the Loch Ness Monster.
I Completely disagree 1 2 3 4 5 I completely agree
 
15. If the Loch Ness Monster exists it could be a plesiosaur.
I Completely disagree 1 2 3 4 5 I completely agree
 

16. I’ve never heard of the Loch Ness Monster, and I think you just made him up to scare me!
I Completely disagree 1 2 3 4 5 I completely agree (Do you really want to test our threat?)
 

17. I’ve never heard of that cousin of Nessie’s you threatened to feed unbelievers to. I want to know more about him as well.
I Completely disagree 1 2 3 4 5 I completely agree
 

18. Please check all the adjectives that you feel could aptly describe the Loch Ness Monster
Totally Awesome!
Shrub-Like
A prehistoric beast of legend, shadowed by mystery and superstition
A fish, if a fish was a two-ton gorilla
Some type of old shoe
Brown
You forgot some! Here, I’ll write them in for you.
 

19. Did you find this questionnaire funny? If so, how funny was it? Please use as many creative adjectives as you can to fully describe the hilarity of the survey.
 
20. Based on the survey you have just taken, does this sound like a speech you would enjoy listening to? If so, why?
 
This time around I think the speeches are going to be pretty interesting. We are all going to have to try to persuade the other students to either change their beliefs on something, or change their behavior. Joel is going to try to get everyone there to stop drinking pop. I rather doubt he’ll have much success with that, as most everyone there almost always has a bottle with them. One woman is going to try to convince everyone that aliens are real. I want to hear that one. I don’t believe in them myself, but the subject has always fascinated me. Judging from another woman’s survey her topic is going to be about music piracy. I’m not sure which way she leans on the subject but I cracked her up by answering some of the questions as if she were talking about seafaring pirates instead of internet music thieves. The first question asked what I thought piracy was. Since it didn’t say MUSIC piracy, I put “Stealing golden treasure and owning a parrot.” Another question asked what I believed the consequences for piracy was. Again it did not specify music piracy, so I put down “Losing various limbs in violent sword-fights.” After I gave it back to her she read through it and burst out laughing. Everyone wanted to know what was so funny, so she read them what I had written.
I still do not like giving speeches, but as you can see I try to make the best of a bad situation. As long as I have to be there, I might as well TRY to make it fun. Smile

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What’s been Up Lately

I haven’t been getting anything back from my art teachers, so my blog has been a little neglected lately. As soon as I have things to post, it’ll be back up to the frequent updates I was doing. I decided tonight that I would just write a general update on a few things that have happened. Nothing major huge, but I figure some people might be interested.

The first and biggest thing, is that yesterday I had to go and get a whole new wardrobe. I know. I was surprised too. I’ve been wearing the same clothes for years, but as some people have recently begun to notice, me not included, I have been losing weight. To look in the mirror I see no difference, but for the last couple of months people have been asking me if I’d lost weight. The first time it happened I got onto facebook and pulled up my page of past profile pictures. I looked at the oldest one almost in disbelief. I really had lost some weight. At least in the face. I was still very skeptical about my body. To me I look the same as always. I began to suspect that just maybe I had when I started having to repeatedly pull my pants up at work, even with a belt, and keeping my sweat pants up at the wellness center has become something of a problem. Last time I was there I had to just hold on to them the whole time I used the treadmill. Mom has recently been saying that cotton prices are going to skyrocket very soon, so if we needed clothes we needed to get to the city fast. I didn’t want to go, because I didn’t think I’d fit into a size smaller yet. She insisted that I get stuff now though, otherwise I’d end up paying a ton more money later, so I decided to go and just try stuff on. I looked at the stuff that was all one size smaller than I usually buy, and I thought to myself, there is no way any of this is going to fit me. But it did. Everything fit. For the first time in I don’t know how long, I bought nothing that was 2XL. It was all XL with a couple of Larges. (And one Medium if you count the pair of gloves) Smile

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This was my very first facebook profile picture.

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This picture was taken of me and my cousin Shaina a couple of years ago when I went with my friends, the Lamberts family, and my cousins to visit the Creation museum.

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This is a picture of me with my friend Matthew Lamberts taken at a friend of ours wedding.

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This picture was taken about a year ago on our vacation out west.

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This one was taken a couple months ago after our trip to the zoo.

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This one was taken a couple weeks ago for my blog. The difference becomes pretty noticeable when you look at this series of pictures. But I never noticed till I looked them up for myself.

Another thing I have done recently, is that I have gone to two movies. This is kind of big for me since I almost never go to the movies, but there was a movie coming out that I have been wanting to see ever since I heard about it. Partly because it looked simply amazing, and partly because I love owls. It is called the Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga' Hoole. And It was an amazing movie. If you ever get a chance to see it, see it! My anticipation of the film was only heightened by the fact that one of my favorite music artists was the featured singer on the soundtrack. His name is Adam Young, but when he sings, he calls himself Owl City. I found this a very appropriate choice for a movie about owls. Smile

This is the music video for his song from the movie.

This is the trailer for the movie.

The other movie was a bit of a surprise to me. I had seen a trailer for it, but I had pretty much decided I’d just wait for the DVD. Until a couple days ago. My cousin Shaina told me that Sasha, another cousin, her sister, and Aunt Sherri had gone to see “MegaMind” and had come home to tell her that she and I would love it, and that we had to go see it. I was hesitant at first since I knew I would be going to the city yesterday for clothes, but I told her I’d call her if I thought I could go. So yesterday afternoon I figured I might get home in time so I called her from Wal Mart. She was visiting with a friend of ours, Carla Glover. Carla wanted to take her daughter to see the movie too, so we all decided to go. Shaina’s other sister Sarah joined us, and we all met at the theater. It was hilarious. It is a movie about a super-villain who finally defeats his arch-rival, a superhero along the same lines as Superman, but instead of being happy about it, he finds his life is pretty miserable. I don’t want to give too much away, but by the end of the movie he gives up his life of villainy, and takes the place of his old foe. There is so much more to the movie than that, though, so this is another one that I highly recommend.

This is the trailer for MegaMind.

After the movie was over we got out to the lobby to find that the rain shower that we had escaped into the theater to get away from, had become a full on snow fall. It was really cute to see Carla’s daughter’s reaction to it. This was basically her introduction to snow, so she was spell-bound as we looked out the window. She didn’t know what to make of that white mess falling from the sky. Smile

My last bit of news for tonight, is that I bought myself a camcorder. I am hoping to take a film-making class at school sometime in the future, but until then, I don’t know what I want to use it for. If anyone has an good ideas for me, leave them in the comments. Smile

Monday, November 8, 2010

Photo Experiments

As you may recall a couple weeks ago I got out of my first class early, and spent the time between classes taking pictures of our art room. In one corner of the room there was a display of plants set up. Probably for another class, but I decided to take some pictures of them, and try editing them into something worth looking at. I also took a bunch of photos of the junk heap our teacher called a still life, but I really didn’t get much worthwhile out of it.

Anyway, today I decided to post some of those pictures. Let me know in the comments if you think they are any good.

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These Curlicue things were really interesting to look at.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Okapi Speech and Art Update

EDIT 9/18/11:
The following is a reformatted version of a blogpost  from almost a year ago.

I was getting many, many hits on my blog from all over the world on this post, simply because the names of the giraffe's relatives are so obscure that they are hardly mentioned anywhere else on the internet. The result was that people searching for these creatures came to my blog. Normally I wouldn't mind, but it was driving my view count way up from viewers who weren't even here to read my blog, they just clicked on it because of these animal's names. Today this post showed up in my "Most popular posts" links, so I decided it was high time to just get rid of it.

I didn't want to just erase it from existence, however. I still want a record of my time at school, so I edited the names into the pictures. This makes it so that they are visible to readers who are actually interested in my blog, but it is invisible to search engines looking for those words. Sure, I may still get one or two hits from the odd websearch for giraffe or okapi, but it's a lot better than getting hundreds of hits from people searching for all these other animals.

While I was editing things I decided to clean up the speech's design. Since I've changed my blog's measurements more than once, the pictures had all gotten quite messed up. One of them was even pushed out behind the blog archive links. It looks much better now. I also corrected a couple capitalization & punctuation errors that I had missed, and I edited out the works cited references, because I doubt it matters to any of you what website each tidbit of information came from. :)

And now, my original post.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Well, yesterday I finally gave the speech on the okapi. I think it went okay. As I was giving it I did not feel confident in it at all, but I think I did well enough to hide the fact that I wasn’t giving it exactly as I wrote it. I will post the speech here, so that those of you who are interested can read it. I also made a PowerPoint to go with the speech, so I will add each picture in the appropriate place.

A Short Family Tree for a Tall Family

imageEveryone here knows what a giraffe is. At least I hope you do. Giraffes are one of the most easily recognized large land mammals on earth, but not very many people know that giraffes have a cousin, and were once part of a much bigger family.

image6The Okapi is now known to be the giraffe’s only living relative, but before 1900 no one knew giraffes had any more living relatives.  From the fossil record, there have been many other giraffe relatives discovered. These include:










Bohl


Bram


Clima


Jum


Ryx


Hella


Hona


Tragus


Proliby


Samo


Shan


Siva

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The main trait that defines the okapi, and all of these prehistoric creatures as family members to the giraffe, other than their relatively long necks, is that all of these animals have ossicones. Ossicones are the horn-like bumps on the giraffe and okapi, or antler-like protrusions on some of their extinct relatives. They are not horns or antlers, but they do look similar. What makes an ossicone unique is that it is covered with soft skin and hair. Horns and antlers are not.

Recently there has been some controversy over the classification of giraffe species, with some researchers wanting to reclassify various subspecies as fully different species. The main differences cited for their reasoning is the differences in pattern in their coats. Some have larger square-like patches, others have spots that resemble stars. The only notable exception would be the Rothschild giraffe, which is different not because of its spots, but because of its ossicones. image17Unlike most giraffe subspecies, it actually has five; however you must look closely to see them. It has a pair on the top of its head like most giraffes, but it also has a small pair behind its ears that are little more than bumps, and one single ossicone in the middle of its forehead. This one stands out the most, though it is still quite small compared to the main pair. But for now, the giraffe and the okapi will remain the only two members of the family.

But what is an okapi? Most people have never even heard of such an animal, and for many of you this is your introduction to this unique creature.
The okapi is a strange looking creature. If I were to draw it, it would not look out of place if the drawing were added to the slideshow of extinct relatives.
imageLike most of those animals it looks like a mix of other creatures combined with the giraffe. In this case it looks like part giraffe, part horse, and part zebra. The basic shape of the body is somewhere between the shape of a giraffe and a horse. Its hair is a dark chocolate brown, though females sometimes have a little more red in their coats. The males have two ossicones, and the females have none. The female is also larger than the male. The most striking feature of the okapi is its hindquarters and legs. They are striped just like a zebra. Because of these stripes it haimage29s been nicknamed the rainforest zebra. Its coloring helps it blend into the dense forests it inhabits, and it is thought that the stripes help baby okapis keep track of their mothers. The okapi’s coat is very soft and velvet-like, and it is oily and waterproof. Like the giraffe it has a long, black, prehensile tongue that is over 18 inches in length. It is used for reaching food, and also for cleaning its eyes and ears. The Okapi is 5 to 6 feet tall at the shoulder, and 7 to eight feet long.


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Here I will interrupt the speech to say that this picture got the best reaction out of everyone. No one there had even heard of the okapi, so when I brought up this picture they were stunned at how big it was. There were gasps and murmurs, and someone said “Woah!”

The okapi is found only in the tropical forests around the Congo river basin an Africa. It is quite shy and does not like to venture out of the forest, though one was once spotted on a mountain called Mt. Hoyo.
Though they sometimes will gather in small groups to feed, image1okapis are very solitary and usually only come together to mate. Not much is known about their mating habits in the wild, as they have only been observed in captivity. Their courtship involves circling, sniffing, and licking each other. After they have mated they go their separate ways. The mother carries the baby for around 440 days before giving birth. Baby okapis are able to stanimage5d up only a half an hour after being born. For the first couple of days the baby will follow its mother around and explore its environment, but after that it makes a nest and spends around 80% of its time there hiding from predators. They are usually weaned at around 6 months, though some continue nursing till they are a year old. They are able to breed at around the age of two, but are not fully grown until the age of three. No one knows how long okapis live in the wild, but in captivity they have been known to live upwards of thirty years.

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Okapis are vegetarians and eat a wide imagevariety of leaves, buds, and shoots, many of which are poisonous to humans. Okapis also eat many different kind of berries, ferns, grasses, and fungus. They even eat the charcoal from trees that have been struck by lightning and burned. Observations in the wild have revealed that the okapi fulfills its mineral and salt requirements by eating a type of red clay found near riverbanks and streams.
The okapi is a very rare creature and aside from what has been observed from captive okapis not much is known about their wild behavior, as they are rather hard to find for study. They are extremely shy and retreat into the dense forests if they feel threatened. They were not recognized by science as a real animal until 1900 when Harry Johnston sent proof of their existence in the form of two pieces of zebra-like skin to London.

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Ever since I was little I have loved giraffes and okapis. They are both amazing animals. It is very fascinating to me to learn about them. I find okapis even more fascinating, considering that there is still so much that scientists still do not know about them.

Unfortunately I went over the time limit. We had between 5 and 7 minutes to give the speech and I went over eight. Other than that I apparently did ok.

Things have been going pretty well in my other classes. In Launching the imagination I have now finished the collage project. The one piece that I drew that my teacher wanted some more overlapping in I rethought and redrew it.

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I drew it rather small compared to the size of the paper, so I decided to redraw it, and rework the proportions.

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When I cut out the circles I cut a slit in all of them, and linked them into a chain, then I glued them all together in such a way so that the slits would not show, then I glued them to the paper.

In Design 1 I have been doing a bunch of smaller projects lately instead of one big one that takes weeks like we did with the kite project. Last week we did a project where we used 3 or 4 of our favorite and least favorite colors to create a composition. It didn’t have to look like anything in particular, but they needed to be well filled in. This took me a very long time because the only thing we had was colored pencils and markers. Neither of which color in anything boldly. Most people in the class hurriedly scribbled out their colors and left, but I took my time, and ended up mixing colored pencils and markers in order to get the specific shades I wanted.

Yesterday we painted again! I was very excited about this, but it didn’t turn out so well this time. We had to do four separate paintings, each based on a different season. The only problem was that they were all due that day. I think I would have done better if they had been assigned one at a time so I could have taken my time.

Today I have been hard at work on my Drawing 1 homework. Our assignment for this week was 25 gesture drawings. These are quick drawings where you sketch out the object or model rapidly and then make the outline bolder. The longer you work on it the more defined the shape becomes. I thought I was going to hate this, but once I got into it, it was pretty fun.

Well, that’s all my news for now. Hopefully I will get some of my graded artwork back tomorrow, so that I can share it with you.

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