Monday, April 6, 2020

Famous Last Words: Pink Elephants!

White elephants tend to be featured heavily in ancient folklore, but do they actually exist? Sort of. When looking for pictures of white elephants, my first instinct was to search for albino elephants. That's how this whole spiral started. As it turns out, albino elephants are actually pink!

via Wikimedia Commons
While low pigment patches aren't uncommon among elephants, full albinism is. However, in 2016 there was an albino elephant born in Kruger National Park located in South Africa. It is the third documented albino calf spotted in the area after one in 2005 and another in 2006. Unfortunately, most wild albino animals won't make it to adulthood. Their lack of pigment leaves them without protection against the harsh african sun. There is currently a fourth albino calf, born this year, that is in the care of specialists after being found caught in a poachers snare in the Kapama game reserve. She has been named Khanysia, meaning light.

So if "white" elephants are pink, where do the white elephants come from. The short answer: mud!

Namibia's national park is the home of  "The Ghosts of Etosha". Etosha meaning "Great white place". To keep cool during the day, elephants play in watering holes and cover themselves in mud. The high salt concentrations left in the ground in this area from melting during the last ice age leave the clay a brilliant white color when it dries. So the elephants aren't actually white, they're just dirty!

So there you have it! No white elephants. Although I am tempted to drop the $500 to go on an african safari now... I need to stop researching national parks! Especially ones that offer spa packages. Anyways, feel free to click on the links and do some reading on your own. I personally find elephants adorable and fascinating! Enjoy!

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Week 10 Story: Life as an Elephant

Author's Note: I've been having way too much fun researching the birthing processes for different animals. The miracle of life is just so beautiful! I'm a little afraid of what my YouTube recommendations will look like after this class is over though... This story is written in 2nd person perspective to give the reader the experience of living as an elephant. All of the events in this story are based on Ellen C. Babbitt's Jatakas Tales (in order of appearance) The King's White Elephant, Grannie's Blackie, and The Elephant Girly-Face. See if you can recognize the individual stories!


You are surrounded by warmth and darkness. It's comfortable, but there's a pressure slowly building. The squeezing gets stronger and stronger until it's almost unbearable... then you fall and land on a hard surface. You blink your eyes open, but that's about all of the strength you can muster. This new world is bright and hot. You feel something big and hard nudge you bottom. Despite the many looming figures circling you, you know that it's your mother who has gently kicked you. She continues to prod and poke you with her feet and trunk as if to say "stand up!" The other giants hovering around you begin to join in.

"I have to stand up! I have to stand up now!"

You don't know where the thought comes from, but as soon as it enters your head you begin struggling to get your legs under you. You manage to roll onto your stomach. It takes all of your might to push up onto you front legs. You feel someone's trunk slide under your rear end and lift you onto all fours. You wrap your trunk around your mother's for support and balance, and you take your first unsteady steps...

The first twenty years of your life pass by without incident. Lately however, there have been some minor mishaps. the most recent one leaving your father with a large splinter in his front left foot. It had swollen to the point that he was left limping around on three legs. Then one day he returned from the forest walking on his injured foot again. Apparently some humans had helped him by removing the splinter and washing his wound. For the next few years, your father would always return to the forest to help the humans pull trees out of the ground. One day he came to you and said, "son I'm getting old. The humans in the forest have done me a great service and ultimately saved my life. However, I am unable to continue to carry their trees as fast or as far as I used to. It is time you take my place."

You have always wanted to meet these forest humans, so you agree and follow your father into the forest the next day. You assume your father's duties and even play in the river with the little humans each night. They enjoy climbing on you and their giggles and shrieks bring you such joy! One day however, a new human appears on the bank and watches while you work to pull up trees. At the end of the day, one of the forest humans takes your trunk in his hands and gently leads you to the shiny man. He takes your trunk and begins to gently lead you away from the group. You glance back at all of your tiny human friends splashing in the water. You hesitate, but the forest humans have given you no reason to not trust them so you turn and follow the man.

via Need Pix

The next few years aren't unpleasant, but you are very lonely. Sensing this, the shiny man takes you to a new village and leaves you with an older lady. She is just the sweetest and lets you play with the village children everyday while she works! "She works very hard," you think to yourself one day. "I wonder what I can do to help?" You notice that she brings home little shiny pieces of metal everyday after work.

As luck would have it, a man and his oxen were stuck in the river the next day. You wade into the cool water and slowly drag all of his carts out. When you finish, the man pulls a bunch of that shiny metal out! As you wonder how you should carry the metal back home, one of the children yells at the man. She seems upset so you stay to make sure she is alright. The two argue back and forth for a bit before you see the man pull out even more metal! He puts it in a bag and ties it to your neck. The little girls smiles at you and holds your trunk as the two of you walk back home.

The look on your older lady's face when she opens the bag made it worth all the hard work you did, so you go back out and help the villagers everyday from then on out.

Life is good going forward. One night you are snoozing by the fence when you hear men talking. You can't understand them, but something about the tone in their voices sets you on edge. You open your eyes, but hold still so it will seem like you're still asleep. Suddenly the men climb over the wall and walk right past you. They're all carrying shiny objects look sharp. You slowly get to your feet, extend your trunk so that it's right behind their heads, and let out the loudest trumpet you can muster. The group immediately drops to the ground covering their ears as lights come on in the house. Your instincts must have been right, because the old lady gives you the biggest treat you've ever seen the next morning!

The rest of you life is peaceful and pleasant. The children grow up and soon you have new tiny humans to play with. As time passes, it gets harder and harder to stand up in the mornings. One day, you know your time has come. You lay down and let out a small trumpet to get your family's attention. The old lady had passed a while ago, but her children had stayed with you. They come out and give you lots of hugs. They seem to know what you do, there isn't much time left. They all lay on you in a big group hug as you close your eyes and slowly drift off into nothingness, feeling the love of your humans in your final moments...

Reading Notes: Babbitt, Jataka Tales (Part B)

2. The Elephant Girly-Face, Ellen C. Babbitt

  • Elephant POV
    • Rewrite so that the elephant kills the robbers instead?
    • Perhaps they think he is no harm due to his reputation
3. The Banyan Deer, Ellen C. Babbitt
  • King POV
    • Human King would have to ask the gods to grant him a voice?
  • Mother POV
    • She gets out back into the "drawing" and volunteers as tribute when her son's name is pulled
5. The King's White Elephant, Ellen C. Babbitt
  • Old Elephant POV
    • Did Girly-Face get released?
  • Young Elephant POV
    • Or is this Girly-Face?
  • Combine with The Elephant Girly-Face
Fun Fact: Albino Elephants are actually pink, not white! Be on the lookout for more info in this week's (or week 11's) "Famous Last Words!" because I'm squirreling hard and it's so fascinating!

White Elephants are generally just covered in clay
6. The Ox Who Envied the Pig, Ellen C. Babbitt
  • Pig POV
    • Makes it easy to come up with COD
    • Maybe too brutal?
  • Ox POV
    • Old or Young?
    • How do they die?
7. Granny's Blackie, Ellen C. Babbitt
  • Elephant POV
    • Combine with earlier elephant stories
    • Order:
      • King's - Baby
      • Granny's - King gives elephant to Granny
      • Girly-Face - Granny passes/gets REALLY old and her son takes ownership
Baby Elephant! via Wikimedia Commons

Reading Notes: Babbitt, Jataka Tales (Part A)

4. The Turtle Who Couldn't Stop Talking, Ellen C. Babbitt

7. The Quarrel of the Quails, Ellen C. Babbitt
  • Quail POV
    • Leader?
    • Quail 1
      • Steps on head
    • Quail 2
      • Gets
      • stepped on
    • Death
      • Old Age (Pet)
      • Food?
9. The Foolish, Timid Rabbit, Ellen C. Babbitt
  • Rabbit POV
    • Short life span 
      • Pass of old age?
  • Lion POV
    • Mufasa?
    • The wildebeest stampede could be preceded with a thought of "That darn rabbit"


Monday, March 23, 2020

Week 9 Story: Final Life as a Horse (Part 2)

Author's note: This is the second half of my story from week 7. This chunk will hopefully be edited into my storybook by the end of today. This story focuses on the events in Donald A. Mackenzie's Horse Sacrifice with some allusions to his version of King Yudhishthira's Horse.

Days go by, then weeks, then months. This blasted crowd will NOT stop following you. They've even added new people along the way! There were a few times that a stranger tried to grab you, but some weird dude with magical bendy stick always fought them off. One time you saw a rock turn into a human. You also still have nightmares about the pond you tried to swimming in on one of the REALLY hot days...

You had just waded into the cool, refreshing water when you looked down and suddenly saw a lion! Underwater! You ran as fast as you could out of the pond and heard the beast RIGHT behind you all the way to the bank. The bendy stick man yelled something at the sky and suddenly there was no more signs of the lion. You were overcome with a sense of piece and Oh look! Grass!
That was the other thing you noticed during your adventures, all grass tastes different! The winter was cold and long this time. It especially sucked without a stable this time around. It finally started to get warm again, and the grass was growing back, all that sweet, sweet grass... when the bendy stick man suddenly clipped your lead back on! What the fu-

Right now you're back at the stable where this all started. You are lead out into a giant field filled with a bunch of other animals. There are even more people here than when they all followed you around. All of a sudden the people began making a monstrous amount of noise! They are hitting things, blowing into things, and some are just straight up yelling. A long line emerges from the crowd and and they all take turns pouring water over first a man in a big chair, then you. The coolness washes over your ear and forelock, then it runs down your face. The wind blows and you shiver. A man takes hold of your face. You think bout biting him, but decide it's not worth it. He speaks for a bit, then another man grabs your halter, presses his ear against your jaw, and... milk comes out? Well that's new! 

The next thing you know, the world goes black...

Via Pixabay

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Reading Notes: Epified Mahabharata (Part A)

Episode 1

  • What would have happened if Shantanu hadn't questioned Ganga?
  • Why didn't Ganga kill the 8th son as she had promised?
  • Why was Devavrat shooting arrows at his mother?
  • Why was it considered a terrible oath?
  • How did the gods react?
  • What would have happened had Amba's sweetheart had accepted her?
  • Why couldn't the king just marry Amba when she returned?
  • What was it like being married to Vichitravirya?
    • Did he even try to conceive?
    • Maybe he was gay???
  • POV from the servant girl
    • Was Vyas really ugly, or were the queens just rude?
  • What was it like at court with a puppet king
  • Why was the brother so hellbent on revenge when Gandhari was clearly happy with her husband?

Bhishma and Ganga with  Shantanu, via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, March 6, 2020

Week 8 Progress

1. Looking Back - I haven't been as on top of things as I would have liked for this semester. I did manage to complete all of last week's extra credit though! It looks like I'm only 3 weeks worth of extra credit behind to get an A. That's totally doable! I'm really happy with how my blog looks right now, but I might get bored and change it up. :)

2. Looking Forward - I'm really going to put an effort into a routine going forward. Better late than never! I'm super excited to figure out how to format my storybook page for the choose your own adventure style. It'll be a challenge, but if I make it work it'll look really cool!

via Growth Mindset & Feedback Cats