Tag Archives: Astonishment

Help Choose Year’s Most Amazing Wildlife Photo

Screw the thousand words. Some of these pictures are worth a set of encyclopedia all by themselves.

Mostly because I had a son who always wanted to see more pictures of an learn more about the animals of the world, I’ve had a soft spot for amazing wildlife pictures.

'Shoaling Reef Squid' by Tobias Bernhard
‘Shoaling Reef Squid’ by Tobias Bernhard

Apparently, I’m not alone.

For the past 50 years, the fine folks over at the National History Museum in United Kingdom have collected together some of the best examples of wildlife photography every year. This leads to the selection of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year and a truly stunning gallery exhibition.

This year, the Natural History Museum is allowing you (and, oddly, me) the opportunity to help choose the People’s Choice for best wildlife photograph of the year.

'Feel Safe' by Juan Carlos Mimó Perez
‘Feel Safe’ by Juan Carlos Mimó Perez

Vote for your favourite image from the WPY 2014 People’s Choice collection.

Our jury has chosen 50 of the best images from the 2014 competition shortlist. Which one captures your imagination?

Browse the images in this gallery and select the Vote button to make your choice. Choose carefully as you only have one vote.

Voting closes on 5 September 2014. The winning image will be revealed in October.

Share your favourite with @NHM_WPY on Twitter using the hashtag

'Shoulder Check' by Henrik Nilsson
‘Shoulder Check’ by Henrik Nilsson

#MyWPY and you could win a copy of 50 Years of Wildlife Photographer of the Year: How Wildlife Photography Became Art, published by the Natural History Museum.

I’ll be honest with you dudes. I just spent an hour or so flipping through the gallery with my mouth hanging open in astonishment. These are some freaking awesome pictures, dudes.

My major problem with them is that I enjoyed them all so much I had an exceedingly difficult time choosing which one I should vote for.

StargazerEventually, though, I settled on one that just seemed to speak to me.

Okay, not exactly speak to me, but it certainly had a striking visual that just made me stare. And stare. Eventually, though, I blinked and lost the staring contest.

Seriously, dudes, if you’ve got some time and want to feed your brain and your sensawonder a bit, head on over to the gallery and look for your favorite.

Also, a very happy birthday to my father-in-law, The Italian. He’s the man behind the best, most-flavorful spaghetti sauce in the world and I’m a very fortunate man to have him in my family.


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Zootopia

by Richard

I’ve just found a great way to rediscover the joy in something that I thought had been lost forever. Just go see it with someone for whom it’s the first time.

See, last week I went with Hyper Lad’s sixth-grade class as a chaperone to the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, SC. This is a zoo to which I’ve gone many, many times. Over the last few years, though, as the older young dudes have gotten, well, older, we’ve not gone so much.

I thought I’d become burnt out on the zoo. Been there, done that.

Until that day last week. I went with a young dude I’ll call Wide Eyes, just because of how wide his eyes were in astonishment and joy during the entire time we were at the zoo. It was an amazing trip seeing it through his eyes.

I’ll admit, I didn’t have much hope when we first started out. I was in charge of nine sixth-grad dudes, only one of whom — Hyper Lad — I’d known before the trip. They were sixth-grade dudes, loud, hyper and just discovering the joys of being even more loud and obnoxious. They wasted the first 30 minutes of the trip, after we’d already eaten lunch, by getting in this huge line for Slurpees. Had to feed the beast, I guess.

And then we couldn’t go into the first couple of exhibits because we had drink and they didn’t allow drink inside the exhibit. Nor food, but we were clear on that one.

After almost an hour in the zoo, we finally saw our first animals: a laughing hyena, a couple of lions and some bears. From the young dudes who’d been to zoos before, I got a bit of a been-there-done-that vibe. From Wide Eyes, I got just that: wide eyes. He wanted to stay and stare at all the animals in every cage. The only way to get him to move on with the group was to point out that there were even more cool animals coming up.

He loved Ape Island, where we got to watch a bunch of chimpanzees walk upright on a drooping rope strung across a moat between two rocky islands. He especially loved it when the chimpanzee started twirling around the rope like a circus acrobat.

For me, though, the greatest bit was what came next. We went into the lorikeet enclosure. Lorikeets are small colorful birds from Down Under that are kept inside a giant cage into which we humans can enter. We also can feed the birds by buying a small cup of nectar. Of course, I did buy the nectar and went inside with the young dudes.

I held out the nectar cup and got mobbed by the lorikeets, who hopped onto my hands and started lapping up the nectar. Hyper Lad took a turn with the cup and loved it. Then it was Wide Eyes’ turn. He held the nectar steady until the first bird headed toward his hand. That’s when he — well — freaked out just a bit. There was a wild animal coming at him, you see, so he flinched in a big way, spraying Hyper Lad and me with nectar.

A bit sticky, but it only added to the fun. So, next time you go to the zoo, why not grab a friend of your young dude or dudette who hasn’t ever been or has only been a few times. Those new eyes are sure to be wide.

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Not-So-Rosy Outlook

by Richard

There is something deeply wrong with so-called child-rearing expert and syndicated columnist John Rosemond. (Hence the title. It were a punne, or a play on words.) In his latest newspaper column, published on April 27 here in Charlotte, NC, Rosemond takes to task those fathers who commit the heinous sin of actually high-fiving their little dudes and dudettes.

No, seriously. He says that high-fiving the little dudes is a very bad, bad thing. Why, you whisper in shocked astonishment? Well, says he, because if you high five the little dudes, you’re forfeiting your right to leadership over the young ‘uns. Again, yes, seriously. That is what he said.

. . . although this common practice is well-intentioned, it diminishes a child’s ability to view his father as an authority figure. Children need two L-words from their parents: love and leadership.

The high-fiving dad is a loving guy who has substituted relationship for leadership, a proposition that does not work in any leadership setting.”

Say what?

I do believe he’s seriously suggesting an either/or proposition here. Either you’re some remote, unapproachable leader of men (well, little dudes, but you get the idea) or you’re some kind of commie-symp wimp who wants to be all buddy-buddy with your progeny at the expense of showing them what a man really does.

Personally, I find this outrageous. This dude has some serious baggage in the brain if he really believes this is true. I’ve read Rosemond before and thought he’s had some good idea, but he’s really run off the rails here. I mean, take a look at this.

Providing encouragement, helping people reach higher, is characteristic of all good leaders. But effective leaders do so without crossing the line of relationship. In fact, encouragement is most effective coming from someone who is clearly your superior, not someone who is trying to be your buddy.

Whoa! Again, seriously? He really wants dads to hide up on a pedestal, deigning only to speak to the lowlies on special occasions? Wow!

A side note: As I was writing this post, I had the Rosemond article sitting beside my beloved MacBook Pro. I’d wandered off into the bathroom to brush my teeth (really) and was doing so when Zippy the Monkey Boy walked in. I turned to see what he wanted and he simply raised his hands for a high-five. I laughed, gave it to him and then asked if he’d read the article. Yep, he said. “What did you think about it?”

“I thought it was complete hokum,” said Zippy the Monkey Boy. “High-fiving is just another way of showing encouragement, sort of like shaking hands was for those old crusties.”

Then he melted my heart. “I think we’ve got a good relationship and I’ve got a good leader.” With that, he hitched up the shorts that were sliding off his butt and walked back out to make his lunch for school.

So, that’s one (extremely intelligent) little dude’s opinion. Let’s look at this a bit more.

I think Zippy the Monkey Boy is right. High-fiving has moved into the realm of everyday gestures in habited by the thumbs up, the handshake and the OK sign. It’s just something people do.

Rosemond’s problem with this, I think, comes from the fact that he’s from an older generation, one that had never heard of the high five until they were very set in their ways. He also seems to have a definition of leadership that excludes leadership by example. It seems to me that his vision of a family leader is one who is unimpeachably right, stern while giving orders and more than a bit remote from those whom he is leading.

Whereas I see leadership in the family as consisting of setting a good example in ways both fun and somber, providing the right verbal and physical encouragement, and being there to support and guide the little dude or dudette when he or she runs into problems.

The one thing we agree on here is that all dads should show and give their love to the little dudes. That’s something I think we can all agree on.

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