Jun 152012
Morse Code Ants

Did ant-based morse code today. Example image targeting just the green leaves from the video. Ended up being a far more interesting project than I had thought it would be. At first, merely considered it a rote exercise in one of the most basic digitally augmented interactions I could place in the field. Servo with blocking door + Arduino.   But when actually doing it, performing these actions for hours with the ants, I flooded myself with new questions and concepts. Did not count on this.   1) This project features a time-dependent blockade. This is quite unlike anything these ants would experience in nature. Some sort of living creature, […more]

Jun 112012
Serendipitous City Partying | Collecting TreeAnts

6/11/2012| ————- Stephen Pratt arrived today. Just as super nice and helpful as always! Bought and brought me waterproof boots and got Peter some extra collection vials and SD Cards.  Right now, they are out dealing with headquarters in Panama City. I’m out all day in the field.   Last Saturday| —————— went with Ummat into Oleoducto and 3D filmed some chubby ants. Found a gargantuan bee crawling and flying.  Thought it was a tarantula at first. Back into town at 1. Relaxed with other scientists by sneaking into the hotel’s luxury pool featuring a swimmup bar and hot dogs. Feeling euphoric all day. the jungle was misty and brimming […more]

Jun 092012
Camouflage and Aposematicism

Digital-rewriting note: I appeared to be quite tired and scrawled the past few passages on the back of my journal ————————————- So some things like octopodes have algorithms which take in environmental imagery (somehow) and adjust their appearance to match, in terms of what other things are able to see. From what I and lots of predators like me can sense, these factors include Color, Texture (visual and spatial), Movement, Shape, Ambient light patterns. Question: do some animals that want to be seen have similar algorithms but just invert the output? That is, do animals possessing controllable aposematic coloration or movements secretly also have the ability to be quite well camouflaged? […more]

Jun 082012
Hi-Low Density Field Research

6/8/2012| ————   Went to field with the bat girls along pipeline road. First time out here in the evening. They were disappointed. The intense rain is maybe keeping the bats in hiding. Caught about 8 bats in the evening, all AJ’s and some other species name that starts with a soft C? Both are wicked fruit-eating bats. They sometimes look cute and fuzzy, sometimes the visual description of evil.   ——side note, earlier today two evil dogs chased me around town earlier today and one tried to bite, until I brandished my tripod like a giant clobbering club——-   I’m intrigued and sort of horrified at the amount of […more]

Jun 082012
Cameling Mutant Carrot Cake | Embodied Thinking | Dual Infinities

6/8/2012 Up early. Getting up early isn’t hard out here. There is no, “uuuhhhhggggg, what time is it”-sort of feeling, more of just an urgent realization that the sun is up, and that lots of things in the jungle will only be visible for 12 more hours. Ate Kristina’s weird mutant carrot cake for breakfast. Pretty screwed up as far as carrot cake goes. She accidentally put in 4 times as many carrots and was terribly undercooked, then put back in the oven and burnt. It tastes like eating spoonfuls of mushy carrot covered in raw egg. Probably not a good idea for breakfast. Body has acclimated to jungle life. […more]

Jun 062012
Jungle Techniques | Crafty Frog Lab

6/6/2012——— Caught another early ride out with Ummat to Pipeline. Victoria, a noctural bat person, surprisingly shows up to join along at this early hour. She’s leaving soon and is trying to get as much different Panama experience in before her time is up. After years here, this is apparently her first time down pipeline road (the main jungle research access point) during the day. Hiked back down the Frijole to recheck Ummat’s new sites. Found a tiny group of wasps building a nest under a broad herbal leaf. The nest is quite tiny and unfortunately 3D.  Filming scenes like these are difficult. The jungle is much darker than one ever […more]

Jun 052012
Trees Don't Twist | Homeless in Panama

6/5/2012 Cecropia Rotation Tests Late night early morn. Race the sun, setup at 9. Used chair trick learned from last night’s flower-carrying Leafcutter recording to make my tripods taller. Ran across Ummat and his bugs this morning. A group of adorable panamanian 8 year-old girls were interested in what he was doing with bugs, and helped him take down data. Adorable. Setup was tricky as anticipated. Paint pen works well on leaves, but only if they are dry. A single drop takes a paint pen out of commission for 2-5 mins. Compass shows the sun rising in the west. Confusing. Realized after starting that I setup the shots in the […more]

Jun 042012
End of the Road

6/4/12 Ummat gave us a ride as far as we could go on pipeline. The goal for the day is to walk back in order to make it to the talk at 4pm. 11-12km down the road, trees had fallen across the road from the storms last night. Saw Howlers, Filmed. One had hideous growths coming out of its neck. Ummat says that it’s bot flies. Saw first (and ultimately only) Coati walking down the road. These creatures must not have good vision, or their cognitive processing is far more overloaded by smell. It walked up directly to us sniffing around, and it seems that it only turned to run, […more]

Jun 032012
Early Up the River

  6/3/2012 Got an early morning ride with Ummat and Yann. Went to Rio Frijole on pipeline road. Peter had explored this area earlier and tipped Ummat off to groves of helaconia trees. Takes 20 mins of river walking to get into the growth. Ummat finds his hemipterans on these plants. Males and epsecially mating couples are the prized catches. He forgot his net and so uses his fast, determined hands to snatch bugs off the strange fruit. He goes on my shoulders to catch the high- ups. I begin to think about capturing basilisks on video and walk into knee-deep mud pit. There’s something special about practiced bug hands; […more]

Jun 022012
First Day Off

6/2/2012 First day “off.” Bringing my equipment with me anyway. Victoria (who seemingly serves as gamboa’s social liason) set up an incredible trip. Bus to coast to boat to island (the island is maybe not an island, just a hard to get to penninsula). Entire day of fun!    Day kicks off with spotting a sloth handing on electrical wire. Snorkeling shows tube worms and barracuda. Drunk scientists get nuts. There is a deep fog of sexual tension pervading the social environment of these expatriated researchers. The quick blossoming relationships that develop between them make it feel like Junior High. They all cook fantastic food! Yann whips up crepes on […more]

Jun 012012
Best Battle of My Life

6/1/2012 Peter picked me up with the truck and drove us to the Pipeline road for my very first time. He showed me an Army ant bivouac inside a tree that he tracked down the day before. Tracking video would be hard to get of the inside of the tree, so I wedged the GoPro 3D and started poking the bivouac to see its movements. I then came up with the idea to take a fistfull of ants and toss them onto a white reflector. Started off simple enough. LIKE ALWAYS, did not realize the implications of tossing fat piles of angry ants around myself. These ants are big. The […more]

May 312012
First Wild Ant Captures

5/31/12| ——– 11:30 AM Testing capturing footage of leafcutter ants outside the schoolhouse. Filming under a short tree is not a good idea. This tree is full of thousands of small biting ants, and everytime I am filled with the desire to change focus, exposure values, I accidentally stand up fully and the shirt refills itself with ants. My stated goal for coming here is to capture difficult footage of uncommon species on natural locations for testing computer vision tracking. I have to pick and move branches and leaves away from the ant trail. In a way, it makes me think about my job as cheating for computer vision. Shooting […more]

May 302012
Barro Colorado Island

Day before went with Peter to Barro Colorado Island. Hiked across the island through the rain. Peter shows me walking trees.     Lunch with Apes. Shiny Bugs. Poison Frogs. Crocodile in the distance. Susi did not like how we smelled on the boat ride back.

May 292012
Science Starting | Rapid Development

5/29 | —— Start day with peter looking under microscope to identify ants. There are apparently 20+ varieties of Azteca ants around, but there are only identification keys for 4 species. These ants I hear are also notoriously hard to tell apart, especially between workers. Queens are apparently the key to identifying species, but they are, of course, harder to sample. Need to keep reminding self not to be bogged downby money or equipment failures,- place strict focus on the possibilities of experimenting, exploring and learning here. ————- Projects thought up the night before with Biologists ————- Despite that this may sound like wishful thinking on my part, considering much […more]

May 282012
Booting In

Kitty drives me to the airport at 3:45. Despite my hours of packing and gathering, I still have to stop by Tech one more time to grab my missing Arduino ADK. Get in to Panama, meet nice older biologist couple in the Inmigration queue. As someone described, the airport looks like the 1970’s.   Found a cab to Smithsonian headquarters (Tupper), and met up with Bill Wcislo. What a great guy. Sat me down and gave me thorough, elegant descriptions of the most pertinent and interesting research projects and animals around Gamboa. He brought me to get registered and find housing, when, suddenly, all the power in the entire building shut […more]

May 252012
Conchs are Weird, Personable

Woke up on beach. Everything is back right with the world. Returned gopro camera to amazon through byzantine process involving a best buy, staples, and a ups. Spent the morning exploring the beach. I knew conchs were mollusks, and I’ve seen their feet before, but I figured they were just some blobby, snail or oyster-like creature on the inside.   I had no idea they were so expressive.  

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