Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Bee Eclipse

Hey Jammers! Looking at my blog right now, I know what you're probably thinking:

"Wow, this is really ugly"

And you are correct! It is hideous.

But for now you'll have to stare at it because I am not yet done with this blog's layout. I have graphics to make, HTML to figure out... all of it will take a few days to finish because even after 5 years I am still a n00b.

So grab your protective eyewear. Not only to shield your eyes from this layout, but also... from the Eclipse in Jamaa!!!


The lands of Jamaa Township and Appondale are clogged with Jammers admiring the lanterns and newly-revealed night sky, because today is the first day of Jamaa's 4-day eclipse celebration! And it's no wonder there's a celebration– a solar eclipse has not been visible across the USA since 1979. And AJ is based in the USA.

(On an unrelated note, do you see that green plaque by the lantern? Yeah, I do not remember that being there. O_O)

You might be wondering why only Jamaa Township and Appondale are under the spell of night. It isn't explicitly stated anywhere, but I think the eclipse is going to move across Jamaa in the next few days, so Kimbara Outback and The Lost Temple of Zios might be next.




A little touch I like is the glowing light sources. They make everything seem so sleepy and mysterious...

There are also fun facts scattered throughout the region for you to click on. They have cool pictures of eclipses:


The effect of the moon covering the sun looks really cool, like a hole is in the middle of the sun. Or the sun turning all black. Or, like the photo below, it can look like a bite was taken out of it: 


Not everyone in the USA will see a total eclipse (the moon making a hole in the sun) during these few days. Some will only see a partial solar eclipse. Still cool, though!


The above photo is of an annular solar eclipse! I looked it up B)


I thought those glasses were a weird blob across the sky for a second and I was confused. X)

If you believe you might get a chance to see the solar eclipse, local papers or online news sites might have some info about where and when to see the eclipse in your area. Times and dates may vary!

AJHQ also provided some useful information about eye-safety in this recent edition of the Jamaa Woodslab:


Don't go gazing at the sun without eye protection, or it will hurt really bad after a while, you will get an eye sunburn (those are real), and your vision will suffer for it. And regular sunglasses will probably not be enough, so I suggest you go to that NASA URL in the image above.

There are also a few themed items that come along with the eclipse:


And some others that may or may not be related:



If you're wondering about the bee stuff, it's National Honeybee Day in Jamaa again!!!


I kinda wish they celebrated the generic World Bee Day on May 20th because the honeybee is only one kind of bee. There are loads of cool bees in the world that don't get as much attention because they aren't held captive by humans for profit.

Additionally, while the honeybee is a wonderful pollinator who should be respected, they are not native to North America and have less of a positive environmental impact (in N. America) than native bees.

Here are some cool North American native bees:

This one is a (very) Fuzzy-legged Leafcutter Bee. Mothers make nests that look like tubes, with the baby eggs lined up within. Each baby tries to hatch in an order, from the entrance of the tube to the back– just a nice orderly way to make it easier to emerge.

Sometimes, though, a little baby egg "sleeps in" and hatches a wee bit late. In that case, the earlier hatchlings nip the baby gently so they know to hurry up on their way out into the world.

This precious native bee is the endangered Rusty Patched Bumblebee. The reason for their endangered status is a sickness brought over from Europe by humans that has reduced their numbers by 87%. Additionally, they have to put up with the struggle from human pesticides. 

If you can, don't use pesticides or buy food made with pesticides in order to help this bee survive. The ecosystem is counting on you!
This special bee is a male Cuckoo Bee! Male Cuckoo Bees and female Cuckoo Bees team up to hunt for food. The species that they eat do not regard males as a threat, so the male Cuckoo Bee disguises the female with his scent so she can hunt undercover. Cool, huh?


Is that bee at the beach? Did his friends bury him in the sand and leave him there while they went and got ice cream? What jerks...

Thankfully, this bee is not stuck, but he is on the lookout. He is a Lasioglossum Bee at the entrance of his underground home. He lives with a few male roommates and one female, and it's his turn right now to guard the nest from predators and make sure his friends are safe. Antennae fixed on the wind, he's doing a great job!

All these bees live in North America and are beautiful and extremely important for the ecosystem. If you're lucky enough to see one (or remember seeing one), comment and tell me! 

Some other AJ news:



There's a new free educational AJ app, pixel painting is accessible in the Art Studio, and all plushies can now explore the deep oceans!

Before I go, here's something interesting I heard about solar eclipses: other animals are amazed by them as well. I just read that around 15 years ago a scientist was observing a solar eclipse in Hawaii, all the birds loudly talking, but once totality came (when the moon completely covers the sun) the birds all went silent. 

Have you ever experienced something like that? I've personally never seen an eclipse of any kind in person. 

That's all for now, see you in Jamaa! :)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Blog currently being redesigned!!!

Hey guys!!! Wow, I haven't posted in a while. Almost as if I died, huh? Well, I didn't. I was just incredibly lazy.

Too lazy even to do something I like XD

Sometimes I worry about myself... 



Well, I don't have much of a formal update, but I'd just like to tell you that things on this blog will be picking up a more normal pace now that I'm done with my wildlife internship. 

To kick that off, I'm going to finally update the blog's layout today! Yes, friends, TODAY!

I'm gonna be updating it for two reason. The first one being the obvious– that I think it's time for a newer, more legible look. The second one being that I have made so many HTML mistakes that some things just don't work anymore in regards to layout changes. 

So this is a bit of a warning: the blog will look very ugly and strange for the short period of time where I'm working on it. Or, depending on your opinion of the finished product, it might stay ugly and strange. 

At that point, I'll be happy to accept criticism and make necessary changes. :)

EDIT: The actual changing is not happening yet, because I am currently designing the new graphics. Do you like the new header and page bar?

See ya soon!



P.S. What do you think about the upcoming Jamaa/real-life eclipse? It sounds really interesting!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Crystal Sands's Identity Crisis

Disclaimer: This post has been edited to protect the identities of people included

Don't visit these lands. And if you do, don't share photos or videos of these lands. This is concept art belonging to AJHQ. You could, might, and probably will face disciplinary action.
If have received permission from the original owners to keep their photos up.

HELLO.IM A PERSON.

This picture originally had credit to the owner. Their identity has been removed to protect their account.


This is Speedo Shores. How did I find it? Well, let's start with a user named *SlappyDoodle. She was in Crystal Sands when someone came by and said to buddy, then follow them. This person lead her to Speedo Shores, pictured above. I, then, buddied SlappyDoodle and went to Speedo Shores myself. 

Speedo Shores pretty much looks like a sketch of current Crystal Sands. I believe it was probably a map of what Crystal Sands would look like when finished or even a earlier, incomplete version of Crystal Sands. 

So, Speedo Sands is basically a cool incomplete version of all of Crystal Sands? Wow, neat! It looks like so much fun! Right?

Well.. after I explored the area a bit, this happened..

..it seems I have been suspended for a grand total of 1 day. 
After speaking to some others who visited the land, I figured out that the majority of visitors got suspended too.

So AJHQ just didn't want anyone running around an area that wasn't meant to be used. Completely understandable. 

This picture originally had credit to the owner. Their identity has been removed to protect their account.


*SillyWillyDaffodilly visited a different land called Sandy Shores.
This is Sandy Shores. I personally have not been in there, but SillyWillyDaffodilly has visited it. She reached this land by following her own buddy. 

Another layer of Crystal Sands!?! Wow! Crystal Sands is definitely going through a identity crisis.

SillyWillyDaffodilly states that she was able to leave Sandy Shores without a suspension. 

Credit to the Animal Jam Archives!

Here's a version of the current Crystal Sands, if you'd like to compare the other 2 maps. 

So what's the moral of the story? Maybe it's stick to the original design?

Or maybe it's even giant corporate companies make mistakes?
Or maybe it's Ice Cream tastes good. :)

What? I just had a really good bowl of vanilla ice cream. 

So which version of Crystal Sands do you prefer? I think I like the original design. It just looks more organic and to quote my sister who is currently standing over my shoulder, being a nuisance, "It looks like actual animals live here instead of weirdly advanced animal humans that could take over the world,"

Personally, I find it really cool that AJHQ has so many different layers to the lands they make. Working with layers in art programs can be really hard. It really must have been hard adding so many little details onto everything. 

Welp. That's it. 

BYE

*Names have been changed to protect identities 

Monday, July 31, 2017

What I've Been Doing + Cool New Feature!

Heyyo Jammers! This post is admittedly a little late, simply because I admittedly slept through the whole day. I had a really fun week! So fun, in fact, that I forgot to sleep. 

So... what exactly did I do last week?



Long story short, I went to an animal rights and advocacy summer camp located on an animal sanctuary. My special friend pictured above is Beatrice, a turkey born to be killed in a slaughterhouse. At a young age she was rescued and parted with her 45 million friends and family who did not even see the sunshine before their deaths. 

It's amazing, even though humans have wronged Beatrice unimaginably, her heart is still open to us. She loves wing massages and will approach you asking for them. Beatrice spends her days in freedom, exploring the land, looking for yummy grass and bugs to eat, daydreaming beneath trees, and chatting and cuddling with her fellow rescued turkey friends. 

You know, while me and my friend at camp were stroking Beatrice's soft white feathers, she told me something that struck me hard. It's a simple phrase that sounds obvious at first: 

"Turkey is a turkey"

The flesh you eat for dinner used to be a living, breathing, beautiful being; someone who had needs and wants that were never fulfilled; someone like Beatrice who cried when they were sad and purred like a kitten when they were happy. 

My friend had only realized this a year ago, she was embarrassed to tell me. When she saw someone eating a turkey, she only saw "meat". They probably only saw "meat" as well, not the being from which that flesh was stolen from. When my friend began to realize the folly of that train of thought, she was never the same again.

Beatrice was molting a little during the time we were stroking her wings, something completely normal. She purred as she fell asleep in our arms, the caruncles on the top of her head shifting into a blue as cool as the sky. Turkey's caruncles are like mood rings, when they feel excited they are bright red, and when they feel relaxed and loved they turn cool blue. 

A small downy, angelic feather fell from her wing to the earth. I brought it home with me to remind me of Beatrice, all her friends safe at the sanctuary, and in memory of all those who were never so lucky, who continue to live and die in painful darkness.

This experience really changed me, seeing an animal usually objectified and eaten at head level, looking into their deep brown eyes and seeing their hearts and history unravel before me.

 I just wanted to share this meaningful thing that happened to me. I feel honored to have met Beatrice and heard her story, so I'd like to share it with you for you to think about. 


Overall, this camp was an extremely positive experience. Everyone in the community was so close, and it was amazing to meet so many kind people who have had vastly different experiences and yet all hold the deep-set belief that animals deserve respect and understanding-- something I often have to defend back home lol

I like to use this blog to tell y'all about the new stuff going on in my favorite game, Animal Jam, but I also like to tell you a bit about myself sometimes to make the experience more personal. I'm not AJHQ, guys! I don't have to worry about public relations or anything. 

Besides, I'm sure a good amount of you love real-world animals and not just Animal Jam animals, and a major aspect of AJ is learning about the animals around you. I personally love all animals, not just the charismatic megafauna of faraway countries! 

On a more internet-related note, I noticed an awesome new feature when I logged on this afternoon:


At first I thought, '*gasp* is this the new feature I've been waiting for??'


And, yes! Yes it is! Finally, after all these years, a general feedback button for all of AJ!

If you've been reading this blog long enough, you probably know what I'm going to write first:


Yep, classic DoomyPanda. XD

Honestly, I think this change could be so simply yet effectively implemented by putting stuff like notices of new Conservation Museum exhibits on the front page of the Jamaa Journal and pushing the "OMG SPIEK SALEZ" notice back a couple pages. This is also good because people are more likely to read the whole Jamaa Journal if you safe the "best" for last. 

I just think that AJ needs to understand that it's classified officially as a "biology educational MMO" and not a "spike collar  simulator" for a reason. It's simple as that. :|

What kinds of things will you write into the suggestion button?

See y'all in Jamaa,

~DoomyPanda

Sunday, July 30, 2017

I'M BACK YO

Hey guys! I'm back from summer camp with a new passion to post for you all. I really want to talk about it but it's a little late right now as I write this, so tomorrow you'll hear more from me about it. 

See you tomorrow around 4 to 6 o'clock EST!

~ DoomyPanda :)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Wonders of Tiki Trouble

Hey Jammers! It seems odd, that after so much fragmented posting I'd declare an even longer hiatus instead of just getting my act together. Still, I can't change the fact that I'm going away for a week and will not have access to internet.

But I do have a little time today to post. I'll be using this post to talk about the new adventure 'Tiki Trouble', just because I like it so much and it'll probably be old news by the time I get back. 

The promised post about Beta Testing myths will come after I get back home.

So... Tiki Trouble. Where do I begin?


I guess I'll begin with NPC villager Mele's assessment of the whole thing, which is admittedly pretty accurate. The main goal of this quest is to upset the peace of an island village by awakening their three annoying tiki statues, Momi, Koa, and Kapena and make tedious trades for their magical pearls that, according to dolphin alpha Tavie, will banish all the phantoms from the ocean. 

Interestingly, the names of the statues have deliberate meanings. Momi is a Hawaiian name meaning "pearl", Koa is a name meaning "brave", and Kapena is a name meaning "captain", which is rather fitting, given their dialogue:



I wonder how a pirate got turned into a tiki statue.

What if...

A pirate ship crash-landed on the island, and the captain's spirit went into the tiki? 

That would be the most interesting secret story line in all the AJ adventures, in my opinion. 

Let's see how the other tikis live up to their names:


Momi's name means PEARL. Can't really see any resemblance between Momi and a pearl. This statue's defining characteristic is that it talks in rhyme. Momi is a Hawaiian girl's name, so perhaps Momi is a girl. (Or if my theory is right, that these are spirits, this statue's spirit is a girl).

Maybe Momi is responsible for giving pearls to all the other statues, giving her her name. Hmm...


Koa is also a kind of tree native to Hawaii. Maybe this is a tree spirit? They look kind of... tree-like. Their defining characteristic is their not-very-articulate English. Hmm... not many clues here, but I guess I wouldn't imagine a tree's first language to be English?

Each tiki will only trade specific things for their pearls. You even need to bribe them to get them to talk to you!

Kapena, for instance, needs to be offered one gold coin combed from the shallow waters:


Follow the water-with-rock arrow to the shallows and click all the pawprint grab buttons 'til you find a gold coin. 

I believe you have to talk to a tiki before their special item becomes accessible to you. (I mined every single deposit before talking to Koa and I got nothing but fossils).

If you're finding too many purple conch shells, sell them to a trader for gems!


After you give Kapena the gold coin, he will want three pieces of fruit. The order may vary, but I believe he wants a pineapple, coconut, and banana. To save time, keep an eye out for those as you follow Kapena's trail.

I suggest you look for Kapena first, simply because he's closer to Tavie. 

Here's a secret: You'll stumble upon a treasure hunter by the seashore who might just validate my theory that the three tikis are spirits from a sunken ship.


Hmm... is it pushing it to wonder if that sunken ship is Sunken Treasures in Kani Cove? 

Next up, Koa. Koa wants a jewel first, then three pieces of fruit. Mine the jagged silver deposits looking for some shimmery jewels. You'll get a lot of fossils, but you can sell those to a trader.


You also have a chance of finding a Gold Brick in a deposit. 

You'll want to talk to Momi last, simply because she's so far away and that it takes awhile to get her special item, a sad polluted phantom fish.

















Nice save, AJHQ– having the player fish for squishy phantom fish instead of real fish in a game where you can play as a fish. XD

I don't know how to feel about that sad, sad phantom fish, though. Is it a normal fish made sad and sick by pollution? Or is it a fish bioengineered by the phantoms? Who can say!?

As for the process of fishing, you'll get a lot of cans. Luckily, you can sell them to the village trash enthusiast for her 'collection':


I suggest you go around and talk to the villagers. Not only will they offer you friendly advice about their island...


...but for an AJ adventure, their dialogue can be genuinely funny:


I was so not expecting this XD

Of course, after each pearl you receive, you deliver it to Tavie and she'll give you a prize. Here are some nonmember prizes in order, from first pearl to last pearl, left to right:


I assume the tiki statues vary, so you can collect 'em all! 

Plus, the middle guitar is the first item of its kind: when you click it, it plays an electric guitar sound! 

Here are some other prizes you can get as a member and in secret treasures, like if you find a boot in a fishing net: 









Look around, see which ones you can find!

I just love this adventure so much. It doesn't emphasize items as heavily as it does the plot, at least I think so. 

Before I go, I just learned that Animal Jam is being developed into a downloadable computer application!


I think the goal is to make gameplay more convenient and less laggy, or maybe also make money. According to snowyclaw, browser AJ will not change at all– whew! :)

Open beta for this computer app will happen while I'm away around July 26th, so I hope it's fun, for those who'd like to try it.

Well, that's all for now, Jammers. See you when I get internet again on July 30th!