Month: September 2015

Ponders on Colorful Breeding

orange and white koi
orange and white koi

I had a dream in which I took a glittering white and orange koi fish from a pond. It allowed the parting from its translucent home without complaint yet watched me, unblinking. After waking I was immediately curious on how the different colors are carried across generations of koi – and what extent human aesthetic breeding played a part. Reverence for this fish began in China and Japan so let’s start at the beginning.

Legend has it that in 533 B.C. Confucius’s son was gifted a common black carp (magoy) on the day of his birth by King Shoko of Ro. Upon this honor Confucius named his son after the only fish that managed to swim up the falls of the Yellow River and become a dragon. I have not been able to find too more in depth about this yet but enjoy the link above to the legend of the koi fish.



Koi were brought to Japan when the Chinese invaded, where it was bred in the gardens of the main house for food, especially during winter when the rice could not be grown. It was not until after WWII, when air travel brought a surplus of foreigners who admired the auspicious fish and coveted it as a symbol of wealth, that selectively breeding the koi fish became prominent. They were bread not only for their traditional symbolism of positive energy but also for beauty. There are dozens of colorations for koi fish and interpretations vary across many who appreciate the species. These are the most popular and most common: red coloration is for the mother, for fire, strength and power; black coloration is for masculinity, the patriarchal role; blue and white coloration is for the son and tranquility; and gold koi symbolized prosperity and wellbeing (especially in business). It makes more sense now why in movies I saw these in ponds of the eastern Asian upper class. Of course you have the implication of financial superiority but I so love this delve into the layers behind the selection. It could have been deer or a beetle but someone somewhere decided the koi was gorgeous and convinced others who carried it over generations – all the way to us, here, now.


Bear in mind that subjective selection is not necessarily evolutionary healthy. Some animals appear to breed for beauty (butterflies, horses, peacocks, wild cats, etc.) but what we admire as beautiful is always subjective. Indications of ‘beauty,’ such as a thick mane on a horse or the vibrant colors on butterflies and peacocks, are indications of healthy genes and a those that can fend for themselves (and therefore others as a mate or to produce strong offspring).

How we look doesn’t always belay what is under our surface, however.


The most prominent example I can give you is albino animals. They are popularly considered exotic – an association socially used to connote beauty but nominally inaccurate, by the way. Albinism comes with high (and sometimes fatal) ocular problems and drastically increases the susceptibility to sunburns and skin cancers. Why? Well, what’s the prominent feature of albinism? White pigment – or lack of pigment. Albinism results from inbreeding where the offspring has the highest chance of receiving both alleles that do not produce melanin in the corresponding chromosome dedicated to coding the body to generate color in the skin and eyes.

Koi Breeding Tree
Koi Breeding Tree

Now, in modern science we have of course realized this and even zoos will trade residents in an attempt to increase the diversification of a species genes. This is especially crucial for those that cannot be widely released back into the wild to live out their own natural selection. Artificial selection can only go so far, though, and the records the zoos keep do not yet have the length of time and research put into, say, the Arabian Stud Book the Sultans of old kept close at hand. It makes me wonder what mutations may now be absent – and what is yet to come.

Fun Fact: The koi manifestations of the ocean and moon spirit in Avatar: The Last Airbender have colorings based on a Tancho koi coloring which originated from the Kohaku, meaning “red and white” (see linked breeding tree above).

Yin Yang by Moni158
Yin Yang by Moni158

All this pondering and research for a dream about a koi fish, what am I thinking, right? I feed my curiosity and encourage you to humor yours, after all it must exist in sentient organisms for a reason. Now come on, move those fingers and look up the things I know you have more questions about!


Sources; for more information:


Other “Ratified Research” posts:

  1. The Luck Dragon
  2. Purple Heart
  3. Headless Horseman
  4. Glaucus atlanticus: The Blue Dragon


Simple Updates

Not too much this week my dears. I’m settling into a new position of work and straightening out my calendar. The biggest update I have for you is that first off, next week’s post will have a bit about koi fish coloring, and second, if you have not heard, the updates for my webcomic Sugar&Salt have been changed to every other Tuesday.

When I started the comic I thought I would have more back log to accommodate for every day changes but it simply turns out I did not and spending every day after work working on strips was taking away from a part of my live that I love: being active. My main external goal for this comic is to share fun and wisdom. Internally if I’m not having fun I will not do it. So, in an effort not to burn out, the next strip update will be September 29. Until then I know there are a ton of other webcomics available that you can distract yourself with in the mean time. If you cannot find any let me know. I have a massive arsenal of recommendations.

Remember to laugh and enjoy the fall season guys and gals!

Quick Jog by PascalCampion
Quick Jog by PascalCampion

To those north of us, I am platonically jealous that your trees are painting the landscape with beautiful colors~

on Changes

Change is happening for me right now. I had the opportunity to apply to two different design jobs in the span of two weeks – oh my gosh how exciting! While I did not land either of those jobs (one company wanted a different type of designer and the other had already filled the position) I did find a different position with opportunity for improvement and moving up. Having read and watched Randy Pausch’s last lecture many years ago, however, I will not let go of landing a design position or other childhood dreams. I will bide my time and do nothing but improve and improve and show I am valuable. As one of my mentors says, ” Life is too short to work far removed from your interests and talents.”

As such, here is a teaser associated with the Sugar&Salt comic (read it on dA or Tumblr). More about who and what this is will be revealed eventually.

Name that OC!
Name that OC!

If you want something you’ve never had before you have to be willing to do something you’ve never done before. Be active in your life, live as fully as you can, eat delicious food, exercise for joy your muscles will feel, and good things will come to you.

“The strongest warriors are these two…time and patience.” –Leo Tolstoy

If You Want Something

…don’t just wait for it to come for you. Go out and make it happen.

Today I want to share some motivation with you. While neither of these artful strips of encouragement are mine they are well laid out messages I found powerful and for me they do not apply just to art, but to any skill you want to learn. For example, I hope to one day pick up capoeira again, as well as tai chi. Sometimes learning skills comes in waves – for a few years you learn one thing, then you’re redirected to another. Some things keep coming back into your life while others, the ones less important to you, fade into the background. I’ve always thought that if it is something you want badly enough, no matter that you cannot put it to words or that when others interpret your wish they often cannot categorize it correctly, that you can will it to come to you or make it happen. I mean, think about it. Everyone who was ever great at something started were you are now. They took an interested in that something and studied and practiced it. It may seem like they were never knocked down but falling is not publicized, the rise up from the fall is.

"Take A Chance" by SOLAR-CiTRUS
“Take A Chance” by SOLAR-CiTRUS
“Like An Artist” by JellyVampire

Now get out there. You can do it.

Happy learning friends ~