Time stands still

Something Jon and I have fallen into doing, without even really planning it, is to make series and repetitions of themes in our photos, particularly during our travel photos. Ultimately I think I like this so much because it forces us to be imaginative, but also because there’s something about these same-but-different pictures reminds us that time is happening, yet many of the things we love most are still there for us.

Museums are a great place for things to stay the same, even if we don’t. I’ve always loved the Harvard Museum of Natural History. I remember the first time I ever saw their Kronosaurus skeleton. I was 11 and on a school trip. I’ve seen it many times since, and in 2004 a friend of mine- it happened to be Jenny Wood- snapped this picture of me admiring it.

Krono-me

I’m sorry I don’t have a better picture- I didn’t realize that it would be an important one in years to come. It was taken before I met Jon, but it wouldn’t be much longer before I would.

Also in 2004 I fell in love with the coelacanth. The coelacanth is an ancient Devonian fish, of which 300+-year old fossils have been found. This fish was always believed in the western world to have gone extinct after the age of the dinosaurs, until a research assistant traveling in Madagascar found a dead one at fish market while traveling in 1938. Absolutely shocked, she purchased the fish and sent it over to her boss, and they eventually determined that this fish that had been presumed extinct for 65 million years was alive and well. It’s been called the Lazarus fish, and the Harvard Museum has a nice specimen of one. I also have a nice tattoo of one now.

Coelacanth 2004

The first time I ever went to the Harvard Museum with Jon was in 2007, where I thought it would be fun to recreate the picture of me admiring the kronosaurus, this time with the man I would marry.

Krono 2007

And in 2010 we paid another visit to Old Man Kronosaurus and posed again, but not remembering off the top of our heads who was standing on which side in the 2007 picture. I also confused the “hands behind back” pose of 2004 with the 2007 picture, but it’s still pretty nice:
Krono 2010

And again on our most recent trip we saw the Kronosaurus again, this time taken at a better angle because someone was there to take the picture for us. The other two times we had to prop up the camera on a bench, making the photographer look like a midget with balance issues.

Krono 2014

We’ve also tried to keep up with the “me contemplating the coelacanth” pictures, but I think we forgot that in 2007. Maybe we presumed it was extinct. I don’t like them as much as the Kronosaurus pictures, but they’re still pretty fun.

Here’s 2010:
Coelacanth 2010

and 2014:
Coelacanth 2014

My guess is that our repeat-theme pictures are a cooler equivalent to those class photos that kids had to take every year in elementary school. They change every year, but they always have that silly backdrop. We don’t get to take class pictures anymore, so we improvise.

Dildo Memories

Flickr has shown me for year that anyone, in the act of doing anything, can be a fetishist’s dream. Every now and then some picture I have posted on flickr gets an unusually high number of views and favorites, and 10 times out of 10 the picture I posted had no intention of being sexual or suggestive in any way- in fact they’re usually pretty tame. I’ve ceased being overly creeped out and offended by it. Nowadays, I’m mostly curious when a picture of mine seems to fall under a Flickr Fetishist’s radar and marvel at all the bizarre things a person can have a fetish for. One question, though- why is it always men? Always. It’s not simply because I’m female, because plenty of guys have favorited my pictures of Jon with a fuzzy beard, Jon putting on deodorant, a picture where Jon’s feet are visible, one close-up of Jon’s teeth, etc. To date no lesbian has ever favorited a weird fetish picture of me, nor has a straight women ever favorited a weird fetish picture of Jon. It’s just men, straight or gay. What is so apparently masculine about being sexually turned on by typically non-sexual things?

I don’t feel like posting the pictures right now that have attracted them, but some examples that have caught the fetishist’s attentions have been:

-me in knee socks
-me in glasses
-me in wet socks because I couldn’t wear shoes in the Indian temple and the elephant blew water all over the floor
-me wearing a surgical mask
-me wearing nitrile gloves
-me with a snail on my foot

But here I want to show what so far has been the weirdest couple of pictures that have a disproportionate number of views. They’re two pictures of me, one in London and one in LA. I’m posing with Robert Wadlow, the Tallest Man Who Ever Lived.

Wadlow LA

Wadlow London

Both of them have several hundred views, and the first one- the LA one- I just thought some creeps were just collecting pictures of girls, any girls. But the second one isn’t very flattering- it was taken on the last day of an exhausting Europe trip and I was tired from hauling my backpack and suitcase around a dozen different countries. Why would the second picture be so popular among so many guys? You can easily find out just what’s so exciting about a particular picture when you get a notification that says “Creepy_Guy1972 has just added this photo to his favorites!” You just go to Creepy_Guy1972’s page and see what his other favorites are. In the case of the Robert Wadlow pictures, the guys who had favorited either or both photos were obsessed with pictures of girls standing next to unusually tall guys. They had vast collections of girls standing with tall guys, and some had a lot of pictures of girls standing next to Robert Wadlow statues in particular. Man, that’s mighty specific.

So on the last day of Northeast/Canadian roadtrip, we drove through Kentucky, and stopped at the site of the world’s first Kentucky Fried Chicken. They had a museum there with a replica of the kitchen, and some comic books, a ghostly Harland Sanders- that kind of thing.

Harlan Comic

Jon Weathervane

Sitting with Harlan

Also amusing was the barrel of INGREDIENTS. I’ll bet the formula hasn’t changed.
Ingredients

But what I really wanted a picture of was me standing with the life-sized statue of the Colonel! I didn’t realize he was so tall.
Giamt Harland

Aww, who am I kidding? The reason I insisted on posing with the giant Harlan Sanders, and tried to recreate the pose I did with Robert Wadlow in LA, is to see if the Robert Wadlow + Girl fetishists would pay attention to me. Let’s see how many views it gets.

Although…

If I’m going to venture a guess as to which pictures from our past vacation are going to receive the most views, my guess is it’s going to be some of these, taken in Newfoundland:

Dildo Sign

Dildo Me

Dildo Jon

Dildo Dory

They already have a few hundred views apiece, compared to the half-dozen or so views I got from any other pictures on the trip. Believe it or not, the locals in Dildo, Newfoundland, didn’t seem pleased with us skipping around the small seaside town taking pictures of anything with the town’s name on it. There’s at least one resident who has a sense of humor about the town’s name, though- we saw a boat in the harbor named “Dildo Pleasure.”

Our Most Fruitful Voyage

One thing we really like collecting on our trip is pictures of The World’s Largest Anything. There are a lot of big things in this really big world. What I found intriguing is that not only does Cananda have a lot of big roadside attractions, but they’re especially fond of fruit.

Our first giant piece of fruit is a favorite and familiar one, a local. That would be the Peachoid in Gaffney, SC, now famous for its prominent appearance in House of Cards and for its resemblance to an ambiguous set of genitals. As usual, it seemed to be growing out of Jon’s head.

Jon Gaffney

Me Gaffney

I had packed up the Eyeball of Size Comparison to use in our future Maine Solar System project, so we figured as long it we were looking at large round things, the Eyeball could feature in all our large fruit pictures as well- even if it can only barely be seen in most of them. The fruit we saw was way bigger than the Maine planets.

Our first Canadian large fruit was The World’s Largest Strawberry, in Nova Scotia.
Strawberry

Next was Harvey the World’s Largest Potato in New Brunswick, not actually a fruit but still vegan. The picture was rushed because the second we got out of the car we were assaulted by a dark cloud of mosquitos, some of which followed us back into the car and we spent the next hour flushing them out through the windows.
Potato

Then we visited the World’s Largest Blood Orange in Montreal- unlike the previous fruits, this one provided nourishment. In our case it was an orange Julius and poutine.
Orange

Several hours later we hit The World’s Largest Apple in Colborne, Ontario. This one provided a bounty of apple-related treats and also our dinner. This day was unique because not only did we see two gigantic fruits in one day, but we were able to eat all our meals for the day from them.
Apple

Mr. Gigantic Apple was especially friendly among our huge Canadian fruit pals. He tried to engage us in bocce ball and shuffleboard,
Bocce

or perhaps some mini-putt:
Mini Putt

His offer of a suggestive train ride was getting a little creepy, and we politely declined and went on our way.
Train Rides

Our final fruit of the trip was in Leamington, ON, to see the World’s Largest Tomato. I was unimpressed- not every World’s Largest Fruit is actually that big.
Tomato

It wasn’t completely without its charm, though. The World’s Largest Tomato had a family of tomatoes living nearby.
Tomato Family

See, we have Momma Tomato and Daddy Tomato, Brother Tomato, Downs Syndrome Sister Tomato, plus Bulldog Tomato. They still haven’t broken it to Dachshund that he’s adopted.

Funny, but now that I think about it, The World’s Largest Tomato and the Tomato Family was the last site we stopped at before crossing Ambassador Bridge back into the States. The Tomato Family waved at us and told us thanks for stopping in Canada and to come back and visit again some day.

War of the Worlds

Have you ever heard of a scale solar system model?

It’s when a university or a museum or just some space enthusiasts make a model of the solar system, scaled both in size and distance. It means that the four inner planets are fairly close to one another, but the gaseous and icy out planets beyond the asteroid belt are far indeed, some requiring a visit by car. Jon and I have had bad luck with solar system models in the past. Both times we enthusiastically went into it, only to find missing planets and lame representations- in the case of Atlanta, both.

Our first attempt was in Boston in late 2009/early 2010. We thought we would shake things up by visiting the planets in reverse order, starting with Pluto (classified as a planet back in the 90s when the project was started) and working our way in toward the sun. We though our pictures would be more illustrative if we had a constant sphere with which to compare all the planets’ sizes. We chose the Eyeball of Size Comparision, then set out on our way to Pluto, which was in Newton, MA and several miles from The Sun, which would be at the Boston Museum of Science.

me pluto

The chilly, icy day complemented the chilliness of the edges of our solar system. We had success with a few of the planets, eyeballing Jupiter at South Station:
Eyeball Jupiter

Unfortunately, Boston’s Community Solar System project was not well-maintained. I called the Museum of Science to ask about the missing planets, citing that we were doing this as a winter break project with our son. For some reason I thought the lady on the phone might take me more seriously if a cherubic, wide-eyed junior scientist was involved. No dice. Feeling stubborn, Jon and I found ways around the missing planets, and took pictures at the locations where they should have appeared.

Jon Saturn

Eyeball Neptune

Even the Museum of Science was missing Mercury. I had to dash off into the gift shop to find a sphere that was about the same scale as Mercury should have been, and came up with a beetle-ball.

Jon Mercury

When we moved to Atlanta, we looked up to see if Atlanta also had a solar system project, maybe a more complete set. I found a project started by Agnes Scott College, and we set off to find these planets- Eyeball of Size Comparison in hand, this time in order from the sun.

Eyeball Mars

Earth Me

But we gave up after Mars. This solar system project was even worse than Boston’s! For one, instead of 3D models of the planets, they just had dumb cardboard pictures of the planets scattered around the Atlanta area. It was harder to be enthusiastic about them. But what was worse is that this solar system was also missing a number of planets. The worst was when I e-mailed Agnes Scott College and asked about the missing planets, saying that my daughter was very excited about the project and really wanted to find them. The secret is that my imaginary children aren’t really much into science. They’re more into sports and fashion and feel like I’m just dragging them along. My imaginary children are a real disappointment. The Agnes Scott guy who answered my e-mail said “…Uranus is at the airport, the others are missing.” Really, the airport? The busiest airport in the world has an anus in it somewhere? Well, that narrows it down a bit. This whole idea was my fault though, for thinking that something that doesn’t completely suck could ever originate from Agnes Scott College.

But on this roadtrip that Jon and I have just returned from, our planetary needs were satisfied. Among other places, we went to Presque Isle for the Maine Solar System Project. Because we’d been heading in from New Brunswick, we decided to copy our Boston mission and start with Pluto, working our way inward. Pluto was at a highway rest stop just over the Canadian border, 40 miles away from the sun. Pluto’s forever-pal Charon was with him.

Maine Pluto

Funny how the world works- I don’t have the original eyeball, but where I work now has an abundance of them. The one I borrowed is used as a model to demonstrate how to position a mouse eye in paraffin for embedding and tissue sectioning. But it did the trick nicely for my purposes.

What I liked about the Maine Solar System Project was that the scale was 1:93,000,000, which is an astronomical unit, or the actual real-life distance of the earth from the sun. But it meant that each planet was way far away from one another, and this larger scale meant that the Eyeball of Size Comparison was too small to be useful, except compared to Pluto. But we took it along anyway, holding it up as we posed.

Next stop Neptune, with Eyeball in tow:

Maine Neptune

And that Jon, can’t stop giggling every time I say Uranus, even though I no longer use the embarrassing and suggestive pronunciation. The modern pronunciation, as everybody knows in New New York, is Urectum.

Uranus

Saturn’s park was definitely the most well-groomed. I felt plain posing with and I took out my umbrella to try to impress Saturn.

Maine Saturn

Then I had an opportunity to make Jupiter appear to be growing out of Jon’s head. Jupiter also came with the Galilean moons, which were also to scale and were too far out to fit into the shot.

Jupiter

We drove through a harrowing asteroid belt, then found Mars.

Mars

Mars was also where the town of Presque Isle actually began. The inner planets would be closer and come faster now.

Earth was Earth, but also as a nice touch, included the moon.
Maine earth

Maine moon

Pretty Venus, named after the most beautiful goddess in Olympus. Funny that actual Venus is a literal hell of sulfuric acid and punishing heat.

Maine Venus

Mercury was also blazing and sauna-like. Whewf. We missed it at first and had to backtrack after The Sun because it was hard to see between those huge bushes. What are they, dark matter?

Maine Mercury

And finally we pulled into the University of Maine, Presque Isle at Folsom Hall to look for the sun. Given the scale, the sun should be enormous and impossible to miss. Nevertheless, we had trouble finding it until we realized that the big yellow arch was meant to represent the sun. The dolphins orbiting nearby threw us off.

Maine Sun

And thus concluded our first complete, non-lame scale model of the solar system. I think Presque Isle Maine deserves a lot of credit for pulling off something that neither Boston nor Atlanta has been able to do.