On Christmas Eve, this “gynandromorph” Cardinal perches alone

sn-cardinalA gynandromorph is an organism that contains both male and female characteristics. The term gynandromorph, from Greek “gyne” female and “andro” male. (Wikipedia)

I came across this fascinating article on the rare occurrance of a gynadromorph in birds.  It appears that this phenomena is must more frequent in butterflies, but very rare in other species.

Quoting the article “Half-male, half-female bird has a rough life” by David Malakoff of sciencemag.org:

“This bird might look like a holiday ornament, but it is actually a rare half-female, half-male northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis, pictured with female plumage on the left and male plumage on the right) spotted a few years ago in Rock Island, Illinois. Researchers have long known such split-sex “gynandromorphs” exist in insects, crustaceans, and birds. But scientists rarely get to extensively study a gynandromorph in the wild; most published observations cover just a day or so. Observers got to follow this bird, however, for more than 40 days between December 2008 and March 2010. They documented how it interacted with other birds and even how it responded to recorded calls. The results suggest being half-and-half carries consequences: The cardinal didn’t appear to have a mate, and observers never heard it sing, the researchers report this month in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology. On the other hand, it wasn’t “subjected to any unusual agonistic behaviors from other cardinals,” according to the paper. Intriguingly, another gynandromorph cardinal sighted briefly in 1969 had the opposite plumage, they note: the male’s bright red plumes on the right, the drabber female feathers on the left.”

One can only hope that the human species is at least as tolerant, and perhaps even kind when such individuals exist in our world.   🙂



The Fotoshop Beauty Regimen: No Self-Respect Needed [bitrebels.com]

by Diana Adams / bitrebels.com

Everyone knows that Photoshop distorts reality, but to what extent? We are so used to seeing Photoshopped images everywhere we look these days that does it really even matter anymore? Hasn’t it become a standard in the beauty and marketing industries that we’ve come to expect? To me, the effects of Photoshop aren’t any more detrimental to our self-image than all the Barbie dolls in the store having big boobs and an itty-bitty waist.

As a matter of fact, sometimes Photoshopped images are funny, and they make you wonder what the heck the designer was thinking. Jesse Rosten thought this same thing recently when he was watching a late night infomercial for beauty products with before and after photos which might as well have been labeled “before Photoshop” and “after Photoshop.

He was inspired by the silliness of our society sometimes, and he made this video with the caption “This commercial isn’t real, and neither are society’s standards of beauty.” It’s a spoof on Photoshop that will definitely put a smile on your face. Like this video says, “Why rely on a healthy body image and self-respect when you can have Fotoshop.


Women are at their most confident aged 52 [lifestyle.aol.co.uk]

By Jennifer Barton / aol.co.uk

If you thought your late teens to early twenties was the time when you were at your most body-confident (you did wear those tiny bikinis back then, after all), you were mistaken. It appears that fabulous over 50 is more than just a saying since age 52 is when women feel their most body-confident and content.

At least according to the views of 3,000 women who were polled for a new survey on body confidence from slimming and lifestyle website Myspecialk.co.uk. The survey found that two-thirds of those questioned believed that the age of 52 was when women felt their happiest and were most comfortable with their bodies, inside and out, reports the Daily Mail.

50 per cent of the women questioned cited that many of their key goals had been achieved by age 52. London-based psychologist Rebekah Fensome attributes the verdict to women feeling most secure in themselves by the time they reach their fifties: “A woman in her 50s knows who she is, what her strengths are and values, as well as her weaknesses and failings.”

“You become more accepting of the things that you are good at and the things that you are not.”

In other body-confidence news, the survey found that women who feel confident about their figures will wear red (that certainly rings true for Mariah Carey in that body-con dress she sported last week to show off her post-pregnancy weight loss) while those feeling less body-confident will hide away in black (Dawn French came out on top for least body-confident celebrity). Holly Willoughby, Cheryl Cole, Nigella Lawson and Kelly Brook were believed to have the most body confidence.

Looks like they missed out on Lorraine Kelly, who – at 52 and in a fitted red frock (see pic above) – is clearly feeling body-fabulous. As she well should.

Editor’s Post: Just Get Through It… [helen]

I’ve been recovering from a chest cold and have had opportunity to do a lot of reading, and sharing articles I find that seem valuable or just plain quirky.  (Ed. note: I have a quirky sense of humor.  Be warned)

This season can be hard on a lot of people who find themselves alone.  Please remember that you just have to get through the holidays.  You don’t need a major victory or a feeling of euphoria.  Just-get-through-it.  The odds are likely, if you look around, there are a lot of people just “getting through” the holidays during these difficult times.

Remember, misery loves company, and sometimes being in the company of others might be a misery in and of itself!  Especially when we’re not exactly firing on all cylinders.

If you don’t feel happy, that’s fine.  If you don’t want to celebrate, that’s fine too.  And if you’d just like to curl up with a good book, film, or a favorite dark chocolate latte, then treat yourself.

One thing is true, no matter the holiday:  If you won’t take on the nurturing and care of yourself, then who will?

The implication can go a bit further, by the way.  If you don’t want to take care of yourself and nurture yourself, then don’t expect others to want to take care of you either.

Attitude shows.  It bleeds right off of us.

Hang in there.  It will eventually get better.  

(IF you want it to get better… and don’t be surprised if you have to strive like hell to make it better for yourself and others.)

Sometimes we just have to get through the fog and haze to see that.


My Little Monster and Me [helensartblog.wordpress.com]

We all have our personal monsters…

Sometimes we just need to face them…

And in facing them we find out how frail, vulnerable,

and frightened our “monsters” really are…

Let’s go for a walk and a chat, shall we, my little monster and me?



Being Transparent [huffingtonpost.com]

by Gretchen Peters / Singer, Songwriter

My least favorite word when people ask me about my son is “become,” as in, “When did he decide he wanted to become a man?” When do we decide to become the gender we are? Does it happen at toddlerhood, at school age, at puberty? My son has always been male. The only difference between him and me and probably you is that his body betrayed him, once at birth and again, traumatically, at puberty. Being the parent of a transgender child has led me to some interesting analogies. Being trans is a state which most of us cisgender folks can’t quite wrap our heads around, at least initially. But this question ofbecoming vs. being reminded me a lot of something that’s bothered me about the music business (I’m a singer-songwriter) for years: people used to ask me the same question after I’d had success as a songwriter and was making my first album as a recording artist. “When did you decide to become an artist?” I felt a similar sense of indignation. I’ve always been an artist. You just didn’t know it.

Learning that my child was transgender was like turning a key and feeling all the tumblers fall into place. Everything made sense: his firm conviction at 3 that he was a boy, his refusal to wear dresses, his persistent dis-ease throughout childhood, his reaction to puberty (horror), and, most alarmingly, his bouts during his teens with suicidal feelings. He knew who and what he was — he always had. When he finally told me, I knew in my bones that it was true. I’d even had inklings before he summoned the remarkable courage to come out. None of that makes the emotions any less raw upon learning that the child you raised as a girl for 26 years is, in fact, a boy. This is the child to whom I gave a girl’s name, imbued with my own girlish hopes, nurtured the mother-daughter bond that I had with my own mother — a bond based, it seemed to me, on our common gender. What was my relationship with this person if he is my son? How do I learn how to have a son? I’d thought of myself as the mother of a daughter for a quarter of a century.

As a songwriter, singer and musician, I explore the emotional terrain of everyday life on a regular basis. I am interested in shining a light into some dark corners, even compelled to do it, to take the secrets that we all keep and bring them into the light, give them a name, treat them with compassion and humility, but, above all, to tell the truth. Art has the power to transport us into other people’s lives, and thus, ultimately, into our own hearts. The act of empathizing with another, no matter how different, breaks down the walls built by secret-keeping and fear, and forever binds us together in our humanity. So naturally, I turned to music to help me process this sea-change in my life and my son’s.

I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I thought about my struggle to own my identity as an artist in the world. I thought about my son’s struggle to stand up and be seen for who he is. So many people prefer you to assume a role that makes them comfortable. But life is not about making other people comfortable. This idea seeped into the songs that were coming out of me — the old adage, “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” I wanted to say what seemed unsayable. That life is tough, heartbreaking, unfair — and short. And that there is unspeakable beauty to be found. My son unknowingly gave me a tremendous gift last year when he bravely shared his truth with me. He gave me the courage to share mine.