Saturday, 20 October 2012

Autumn Adventures in the Arboretum

My Field Ecology class went on a trip to the Arboretum last week to do some data collection about the species of trees and other foliage in the understory.  My group was the measuring team, and in making a transect (straight path along which plots for analysis are made at regular intervals) I was frequently ensnared by the limbs of trees we passed.  It was quite a chilly day, on top of which it began to rain near the end of our three-hour adventure.

On the bright side, however, I was able to uncover some fungi!  Turkey Tails to be precise!

Saprobic bracket polypores (wood-decaying, shelf-like, with pores along the underside), Turkey Tails are always fun to find.  Their characteristic coloured rings almost give them away, but not quite.

Turkey Tails (Trametes versicolor) growing on a fallen tree in the University of Guelph Arboretum
The key to telling apart Turkey Tails from False Turkey Tails (Stereum ostrea) is on the underside.  The imposters lack pores (little holes) through which spores drop for dispersal in the real Turkey Tails.

On that trip I also found the Artist's Conk (Gangnoderma applanatumtop left), Tinder Polypore (Fomes fomentarius, top right), some lichen covering a tree (lichen is a combo of a fungus and an algae or cyanobacteria, bottom left), and a lovely path lined with leaves (bottom right).

SIDE NOTE: The Artist's Conk has an easily stained underside and is thus named because artists may use it as a drawing medium.  Even picking one of these with your bare hands can leave dark-brown markings.  Here is an example of some work done by Tom Volk

Today it rained, making it perfect weather for some mushroom hunting!  Alex and I headed out to the Arboretum for a nice walk and some fungus Identification

Going down the boardwalk near the soccer fields, we quickly ran into the Violet-Toothed Polypore (Trichaptum biforme) lining a dead deciduous tree.

The characteristic green and orange bands of the Violet-Toothed Polypore; Alex making an ID in the Aubdon field guide

Of course, our discoveries were far from over!  We also found the Thin-Maze Flat Polypore (Daedaleopsis confragosa), the Hen of the Woods (Grifola fondosa), and the Conocybe Tenera.  Also pictured is the fung-tastic hunting team!


We also ran into a sketchy situation with the suspected Galerina autumnalis, which is incidentally called the Deadly Galerina.  I picked it up, and when we noticed that it may be very scary, we high-tailed it out of there (ergo, no picture) and went out for dinner after some very thorough hand-washing!

I hope your autumns are all going splendidly and that you get a chance to enjoy the leaves, crisp air, and some neat little fungi friends!


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Set Sail!

The blogosphere today is very diverse.  Blogs pop up on design, crafting, science, comics, daily life, writing, oddities, and [yo dawg] there are even blogs that blog about blogs for you to blog.

I didn't want to end up with a microblog monstrosity on my hands, writing about minute details of my day and with no theme to tie everything together neatly. I was searching for inspiration to make my blog at least a little bit different.

Of course, there's nothing really original as Jim Jarmusch said it so well:
Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to."

...but I can try to take my ideas great places!

Fortunately, I think the inspiration hit me today!   I've been interested in the study of fungi since grade 11, so you could say this is a bit of a long-term relationship.   While on a walk with my mycology class through the arboretum (led by naturalist Richard Aaron) it really sunk in how neat I think fungi are.  It is fantastic to finally have some formal experience of the subject I enjoy reading about on my own.

Little questions:
"How do you tell the difference between Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) and False Turkey Tail (Stereum ostrea)?"
"What are defining characteristics of white rot? brown rot?"
"What are the steps that take place between lignin or cellulose decomposition by rot, and the final outcome of total decay?"

I think it would be wonderful to share my affinity for such a diverse and important taxonomic group to round out the blogosphere a little bit :)

Lemon Drops (Bisporella citrina) growing on a fallen tree branch; photobombed by a slug.

I hope that this endeavor is successful in that it gives me a positive outlet to develop the amateur mycologist in me, and provides an element of interest for the bloggers and blog readers out there.

I hope everyone's Thanksgiving weekend was wonderful!  Keep looking for everyday magic.


Sunday, 30 September 2012

Upsides of living in Guelph: City with a smaller town feel, university oriented, friendly and environmentally-conscious people, and lots of opportunities to get involved.

Downside of living in Guelph: Perks of Being a Wallflower doesn't play at the Cineplex!

Although I was not able to see Perks on opening day, I came home to Toronto this weekend to volunteer at the Ontario Universities' Fair (OUF) and took the opportunity to see both my family and Perks!  I'll talk about the OUF a little too, but most important is Perks.

After years of anticipation, the movie arrived and lived up to expectations!  For anyone who has read the book, you'll definitely see the parallels as Stephen Chbosky was the director and screenplay writer.  There were some parts that were not developed as they were in the book (such as Candace's relationship with her boyfriend, Charlie's relationship with Patrick, and the poem Charlie gives to Patrick at Christmas), but it still made for an emotional and hard-hitting film.   I found that the minimizing of the darker elements was for the best as it is difficult to balance a film with drama.  In a book with more room for imagination, all of the ghosts are up to the reader.

For those of you that haven't read it, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an epistolary novel (a novel written as a series of letters) through the eyes of Charlie, an introverted freshman in high school that discovers the world outside his own mind alongside Patrick and Sam - two seniors that befriend him.  A "wallflower", Charlie prefers the sidelines to "actively participating" in social situations.  He come to terms with some tough issues with the help of those that accept him and all of his quirks.   

SUPER BONUS: Emma Watson speaks in a non-Brit accent (trailer here).  It's kind of really awesome.

Now back to Friday, the OUF is rather exciting for someone that loves their program as much as I do.  A proud ASCI, I was glad to spread the word about our small program, and hopefully convince some grade twelves to join us at U of G.  I highlighted the perks of being an ASCI, like the ability to combine anything (I really mean pretty much anything) as a degree.  I had some students ask if they could take Chem & Music or Music & Computing.  And the answer was of course yes.  

I also took some time to poke around the other booths and chat to students about graduate programs in Environmental Psychology.  This did not succeed in terms of finding such particular programs, but it did in terms of me finding out a little more about graduate studies applications and feeling pretty good for once about where I am in my university career.  I'll be sure to update on that once I wrap my own head around the excitement of it all.

I'll try really hard to keep up better with posts from now on.  We had no internet at my house for the first few weeks of September, and then school insanity began.  Things are settling down a little, and now that Perks finally got released, I think I can swing it.

I'm off to be infinite for a little while.


Saturday, 1 September 2012

The Perks of Being a Chameleon

I've wanted to write a blog for the longest time, but never really had a unifying theme to tie my thoughts together.  I suppose I still don't, but with the impending release of The Perks of Being a Wallflower in theaters (aka one of my favourite books), and my name (Kamelia) often getting replaced with "chameleon" in conversation, the lovechild of these two ideas was born in blog form.

Welcome to the beginning of something beautiful!  I read waaaaay too many blogs/web comics/internet things for my own good, so hopefully channeling some of this interest into my own digital doodles will be a nice chance to contribute to the blogosphere.

I should probably introduce myself or something!  I'm a 20 year old student at the University of Guelph in the Arts and Sciences program.  The beauty of my program is that we get to design our own degree in a way with each an art and a science specialization, mine being Psychology and Ecology.  What a great way to make interdisciplinary connections in an interdisciplinary world! Now that I'm in third year, things are getting quite involved!

So here's me:

Credit goes to one of my best friends, Katia, over at Kitty Snooks

I also like many things.  Very different things, in no particular order.

Cycling (with my bike, Bessie)
Reading the newspaper
Reading in general (Fave = The Catcher in the Rye)
Squidging my toes in wet sand
Studying fungi (they're cool little guys!)
Feta cheese
Petting my kitty, Nemo (he's named after the fish!)
TED talks
HIMYM, Dexter, Arrested Development, New Girl, Community, Survivor, and Modern Family (I've got my roommate and boyfriend to thank for my exponential increase in shows to watch)
Pretty notebooks
Crunchy leaves
Cracking my knuckles/toes/back/anything that cracks (FYI, wrists are best)
Blanket-fort making
Puns (I'll be sure to share some gems)
Word puzzles
Grammar (though I've been known to slip up sometimes)
Colourful lights, posters, and curtains to any room
Saying "Oh, beans!" when things don't go my way
Lire en Français (particulièrement Harry Potter!)
Cyclone popsicles
Dyeing my hair (either red or purple)
Winter hats (these will certainly make an appearance as the weather cools)
Tokyo Police Club, Hollerado, The Killers, Of Monsters and Men, Jónsi, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Shins, and too many bands/artists to list quickly
Dr. Horrible
Jenna Marbles
Blowing bubbles/drawing with chalk/Play-Doh-ing with my little sister
Roller coasters
When things match.  Either intentionally or not.

But I guess my number 1 is probably laughing.  Yes, I love that very, very much.  And I do it a lot!

So there you have it!  A whole bunch of things I like, and hopefully it's enough to convince you to keep reading.  I'll try my best to stay at least semi on top of this as I figure out my blog identity and what I would like it to contain.