Caffeine: the most potent artificial intelligence drink!

Caffeine: the most potent artificial intelligence drink!
Deep in the Lair of the Perpetually Curious Fox

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Practice drawings using Sketchbook express app on Android phone

I've been spending time drawing a lot, these days. Still not quite up to par, or any good, from the artistic point of view, but hey, it's therapeutic. Plus it's another childhood fear conquered :)

Mugo Pine with snow drifts

Self portrait of what I'd rather be doing :)

Chinese New Year Mountain Goat


My kinked up hippocampus drifting in the Deep Seas of Thought

Squirrels are always squeaky
I put my hackworks in this Deviantart Album

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Chewing spruce (Picea glauca) gum

I read some years ago that hardened spruce and pine resin makes good chewing gum and I decided to check it out for myself.

There's a great youtube video that shows you how to process your own spruce chewing gum, but I like just picking hardened resin off spruce trees in the backyard.

Video link to how to make spruce chewing gum by Countercommie at youtube

I'd say it tastes really strong at first. The hardened resin just crumbles into tiny granules as you crunch on it. But hold it in your mouth for a few seconds, and let the heat from your mouth soften it. After it has soften, chew it slowly and gather it around in your mouth with your tongue. It'll start to have the texture of a stiff, listerine flavoured, chewing gum.

At first I found it a bit bitter, but it's kind of an acquired taste. After 2-3 tries, I actually start to like the flavour - make me think of breathing in a fresh tree scent like you are in the woods. Plus, I notice that my mouth ulcers heals faster (spruce resin is a natural antiseptic, so it makes sense). I have coeliac disease and I get mouth ulcers often from accidental wheat ingestions, and spruce chewing gum tastes so much nicer than the mouth ulcer gels I used.

I look for naturally occuring hardened resin on the trunk of spruce trees, where the trees have previously been injured (pruning, cold, woodpecker, wind damage). The older the resin the darker the colour, and the richer the flavour (I find). Older resin also makes less stiff chewing gum. Not so old resin, light yellow, for example is still chewable, but much stiffer.

Most of the time I can just break the pieces off with my fingernails. Some people use a putty knife to get bigger pieces, but I'd like to think that I can leave the bigger pieces to age more, and harvest it as it becomes more brittle.

this is enough for a nice chew or two! Amber coloured. Smelling very sprucey!

After chewing for 3-4 minutes. You can't tell the difference between it
and a commercial chewing gum except for it's smell.
In case you're not too keen to eat resin straight from the tree, you can also buy it online. Just google "Spruce Chewing Gum" and you'll find links to people who wild craft these tasty, sugarfree, (Ulcer curing!) chewing gum.

Of course, the next thing to try is making spruce needle tea. You can read more about it here. I've chewed birch shoots before and it tastes very wintergreeney. I would imagine it'll make really nice tea. Must remember to try in spring.

Deer drive around Farm country

 I Went out for a drive looking for deer last week.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Greetings, and Happy Newt's Ears

Yes, I won the battle, but at a steep price. Not being able to digest food properly can really throw lots of monkey wrenches into the machinery.

Had several fractures towards the end of last year, and only now being able to walk again, unaided. Still in a lot of pain, but hey, life goes on. I may have to go back to using a wheelie again, intermittently, but for the moment, I am enjoying the fact that I can use the stairs again. Oh the freedom! Slow I may be, and for a long long while, but the freedom to walk (hobble, really) is not to be scoffed at.

I did manage to read 55 books last year, which is not quite close to my usual reading quota (usually 60 - 80 books annually) but I did manage to add another skill into my bag.

Pixel smearing. Digital art, that is. Not very good at it, still, but it's another "childhood fear" that I conquered, so I am pleased.

I "quit" art some 22 years ago, as I can never force myself to draw well. But now, at a grand old age of 37, I realised, art must not be forced. It just is. Much of this change in mindset is due to my muses who tweaked me into trying again, despite my overwhelming reluctance and "hangup" of being made a laughingstock by an art teacher in school.

It turns out, I was working with the wrong media all this time, and the said art teacher was too limited in her repertoire of techniques (not to mention teaching skills) to realise that I do NOT have the dexterity or manual stability to use watercolours. My media require a quick "undo" button, as I have a lot of tremors in my arms and fingers from nerve dysfunction.

Not the greatest works of art, I have to admit, but for me to actually draw again, is a great great progress I never thought possible. Onwards and upwards.

                             Confused Tropical Gecko on a Rock, overlooking Boreal lake.