Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Purple Pill Stop Motion Video

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This is a brief video I made using my good old Sony Cybershot. I wanted to make a video running at 30 frames per second and to use my Sony Acid Music Studio software for a video. This was the first time I used the music software to make a tune and synchronize it with a video; it was surprisingly easy to do. I used quicktime pro to make the initial video from all the stills. Then I converted the video to AVI format for use with Windows Movie Maker, with which I added the titles. Next, I opened the video with the acid music studio software and created the music from about 7 or 8 sample loops, then I saved the audio file and added it to the video using windows movie maker.

The star of the video was a promotional purple pill clock given to me by a Nexium representative. It had been lying around the house and my kid had claimed it as his own, but he let me borrow it for the production. Nexium is a medication in a class of medications known as proton pump inhibitors which are very effective for symptoms of GERD and problems related to gastric acid secretion.

Click the above picture or here to see the small version (1.6 mb, .wmv, 32 sec), large version (3.6 mb, .wmv, 32 sec), or you can see it on YouTube.

This video and my other stop motion, claymaion and time-lapse videos can be seen here.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday Herplogging: Western Cottonmouth, Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma

This is a western cottonmouth, Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma. This species is found in the southeastern United States and is sometimes also called water moccasin. Just about any aquatic situation with a vegetated shoreline and objects for basking prey is a potential home for it. However, that doesn't mean that any snake found near the water is a cottonmouth, like many (or most) assume. Many unrelated, nonvenomous water snakes are found in these same areas and are much more common. This particular cottonmouth was killed by my father, after almost accidentally stepping on it near a rice field. It struck his boot several times, but was unable to penetrate, before he stepped on it, rolled it over and shot its underside. It is about 30 inches long. The species is in the family Viperidae, also known as pit vipers, which also includes rattlesnakes and copperheads. The pit is a heat sensing organ for locating prey. Cottonmouths are well known for their tendency to stand their ground with their whitish mouths gaping wide open when approached or threatened, hence the name cottonmouth.
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Though I already new the Identity of this species when I got it, I went through the key in the book, The Amphibians and Reptiles of Arkansas by Stanley Trauth et al to point out its distinguishing characteristics. Here are the steps I took:

1. Facial pit between eye and nostril (black arrow, above); eye pupil elliptical (and vertical); single row of subcaudal scales extending to near tip of tail (yellow arrow, above)...Family Viperidae.

2. Tip of tail lacking a rattle or button...Genus Agkistrodon

3. Dorsum lacking hourglass-shaped crossbands, but rather dark brown or black bands; head black with dark stripe behind eye, pale labial stripe (red arrow, above)...western cottonmouth

Below are pictures of the snakes long retractable fangs. Here is some more information about bites from these snakes and their venom.

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Don't forget to check out Modulator's Friday Ark.

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