Taking the long way around

In 2013 I went on a long, circuitous road trip of 6000 miles from San Francisco to Boston in my trusty Honda CRV. I meandered quite a bit, stopping by the side of the road to take photos whenever I felt like it, and generally taking the long way around. I stopped at many national parks along the way and took a gazillion photos. I had no real schedule or agenda. It was glorious.

Posted in response to daily prompt Meander.

Language generators

I am in the middle of novel revisions, so naturally I am updating my language generators. I get kind of obsessed with them.

Random language generator
I wrote this page to generate random sentences using JavaScript and JSON libraries. It retrieves JSON data words using an AJAX call and then generates language using pre-defined rules.

Lorem ipsem language generator
This demo generates lorem ipsem text up to as many paragraphs as you specify. Use it for your web design projects. It is created using Markov chains applied to a very long sample of pre-existing lorem ipsem.

Markov chain language generator
In a Markov chain model, the probability of each item (in this case a word) is based on the state of the previous item. A Markov chain language generator can generate real-sounding text given a source document by predicting which word will follow next after each word. Sample documents here include Alice in Wonderland, Ulysses, my very own vampire novel, the King James Bible, a Latin Bible, a few other texts, and user input where you can enter your own text.

Variations on a (cute animal) theme

I used to keep pet rats, and at some point I decided to breed them. A litter of baby rats is usually between five and fifteen babies. They start out tiny and pink, and by the time they are a few weeks old they have fur and start opening their eyes. When they are little like this they are very tame, inquisitive, and friendly. I found homes for them all.

This led to endless variety of cute baby rat photos like the ones shown here. They like to cuddle and form little piles, so it was easy to take multiple photos of the same group of animals. Posted in response to the weekly photo challenge Variation on a Theme.

The key to naps is to get everyone in a pile.

There is more than one configuration of the nap pile

Time to sniff the butts!

Time for another nap. Naps are important.

Out of this (inner) world

I used to go caving nearly every weekend. I have since stopped, because I prefer to spend my weekends warm and dry, but I do miss the beauty and wonder of caves.

Caves are a beautiful “inner” geological world that may as well be out of this world, they are so foreign and unusual. Caves are one of the last unexplored territories on earth. There are very few places with as much unseen territory as caves (the oceans are another example). Because they can be difficult to get to, caves often remain unspoiled by trampling feet and human development. There are many detailed mineral formations and beautiful objects in caves, and they also provide valuable scientific research.

Soldier’s Cave is a limestone cave in California with many intricate features, including cave bacon and helictite. You can see bigger photos here.

Helictite is is a type of speleothem found in limestone caves. Helictite is formed when water and minerals are extruded from the wall over a very long period of time. The results are the beautiful, spindly, almost-transparent formation like the one shown below.

Helictite detail

The rock formation below is called cave bacon. Cave bacon is formed in limestone-based caves when a thin stream of water dribbles down the edge and slowly leaves deposits over a very long time. In the end you get thin ribbony formations of minerals. These formations are also called “draperies” because they look a lot like fabric. They have to be lit from behind in order to show the stripes so vividly.

Posted in response to the photo challenge Out of This World and the daily prompt Fabric.

Pears simmering in wine sauce

These food photos are posted in response the photo challenge Sweet.

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but cooked fruit is always delicious. These bubbling pears were from a friend’s Thanksgiving meal. We spent the weekend at in Gualala, California. Gualala is north of San Francisco along the Pacific coast a little south of Mendocino. I spent Thanksgiving there with my old friend Andrew a few years ago.

You know what’s really sweet? Old friends. I’ve known Andrew since 1988. Sweet.

From the same Thanksgiving we ate this pear upside-down cake:

Deciding on a username

I have been thinking a bit about my brand lately. I sometimes go by Kristen Ankiewicz, sometimes by Made of Monsters, and I have a couple of domain names too. I have heard that this dilutes one’s brand. I’m trying to fix that by consolidating all my stuff under one name. What do you think should be my username?

Where should I put my travel stories?

I used to have two blogs, one primarily for photos, and one primarily for writing. So where do I put my travel stories? They always contain a number of photos, but, there’s also a lot of story to go with them. An example is this post I wrote about Rhyolite, Death Valley. Do they belong here? Or there?

In the end I decided to host them all here, in the one blog to rule them all. This blog may be all over the place with photos, writing, and whatnot, but at least I’m not splitting my brand.