Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Overheard in the Office

Actual conversations, overheard in the office...the subway...the doctor's office....

They are addictive...budget an hour if you go there!

A sample....

White Girl: So, what do you mean you guys don't have stockings on Christmas?

Hispanic girl: Spanish people's Christmas is more about expensive electronic gifts.

White girl: I just don't understand -- you also use all new decorations every year.

Hispanic girl: Yeah, we don't really do tradition well.White girl: Spanish people are weird.Black girl: Yeah, well, white girls smell like potato chips.

789 Howard AvenueNew Haven, Connecticut

.............Teacher on phone with parent:

Mrs. Jones*, I'm not saying Billy* cheated. All I'm saying is he had a sheet of paper with the answers to the test on the floor under his desk, and every few minutes he leaned over and looked at it. And I don't allow that kind of studying.

Bayport, New York

Designer: You shot the Rubik's Cube contest?

Photographer: Yeah. It was like watching fat, naked men greased up in butter sumo wrestling. You don't want to watch, but you can't look away.

Designer: ... You know, most people use the metaphor, 'It was like watching a train wreck,' but you took it to a really dark place.

323 E Grand River AvenueHowell, Michigan

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Men..lookin at chicks..

Top KNOW men like to look at chicks.

2nd one...dress to be noticed. Yup, he, tires seem a little worn. Yeah..thats it!

3rd...Makes ya wonder WHAT she was thinking when she picked out those jeans.

4th...again. Dress to be noticed. Yup, he noticed. First year with the new boobs. And they WORK!

I love the bottom one. Female elf... "Now listen very carefully, your life may depend on this information" Male elf..."um, er...hmmmm...oh darn, I spilled the wine...."

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Remove for Progress

Ancient Turkish site set to be floodedArchaeologists protest impending destruction of spa.

Ned Stafford

The Allianoi archaeological site could soon be under water if authorities carry out their plans to flood a newly constructed reservoir. Located in western Turkey, the site is a well-preserved example of an ancient Roman health spa. Archaeologist Ahmet Yaras, head of the Allianoi excavation team, is spearheading a campaign to save the site from being submerged. They are trying to rally international support to pressure the authorities to move the reservoir — or at least delay the flooding for another five years so that they can finish the excavations.

Lots more on the link.

I wonder whom I could call.

Friday, January 26, 2007


I took some heat from the social commentary on "men" a couple of days ago. I guess turnabout is fair play.
Its all in fun!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


We have snow! Lots of it. Finally! And for a week or two now, we have had a few inches of the fluffy stuff. About time. My pet gargoyle, Gil, tells me that the weather has been enough to freeze the nuts off a pistachio bush. Here is a picture of him, presiding over his little domain.
And Jennifer will be happy to see that I have installed my new bat house under the eaves. I painted it green, but left the part where they claw their way into it nice and plain wood. I don't know where the little fellas get to during the winter, but I suspect I don't want to check too closely in my attic. I am not worried about wasps building nests in them...I suspect the bats look at a wasp nest in their "bat house" as breakfast in bed.
Its a good view of my little house..."stag house" as brenda calls it. We lived in that little house when we were at work at the Renaissance Festival in Toronto. Hard to is really small. Yet it had a full size desk, a wardrobe, a double bed, air conditioning, TV, ...all the amenities. Those big heavy shutters locked it all up during the winter, and they still work perfectly.

I have several gargoyles. I'll get pics of all of them sooner or later. Click on the images to admire Gil. He would like that. He likes to scare people by looking over their shoulder. He has three friends, each of whom live on a different corner of STAG house. They need names. Perhaps my readers will help me out here.

Oh, and I have completed the set of "sword repair" articles for Like all blogs, you read the articles from the bottom up.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Ah well... "BUSTED".
This chuckle is brought you you by Stag....who is taking a break from studying the hills and valleys of battlefields. (I love the guy on the have to look at the reflection in the window behind him....grin!)

Friday, January 19, 2007

National Archives

In preparation to going to France and Belgium this spring, I decided to research the activities of the regiments that my uncles were in. I don't have time to do the long walk from Normandy to Antwerp, but I WILL go to Antwerp from Belgium, and find where my uncle Bill died. It was at a lock on the Albert Canal just north of "Fort 1" just to the east of the city of Antwerp. Should be able to get there by city bus! Better than marching down the road to bagpipes like my uncles did!

I did not know until yesterday that all the regiments kept a "war diary" of their activities. The above pictures are from the war diaries of the Calgary Highlanders. They are surprisingly interesting...they read like a really good blog! Well, they ARE a diary! Seems the war diaries of all the regiments EVER are in the National Archives right here in Ottawa! Most everything is in there...names of officers injured and killed, gone home, or new arrivals. Orders of battle. Lots of battle maps, with coffee rings and cigarette burns. The originals! I felt honoured to be pouring over the same maps as the Colonels of those great regiments! Missing was the nominal roles of the men, and the names of those k-w-m, as well as those recommended for medals and why. These are in some other archive I have not found yet....I expect they are "dispatches" which may be in the Brigade diaries. (Several platoons make up the Companies, four or five Companies make up a Regiment, and all Regiments belong to Brigades)
If you click on the images and enlarge them, you can read the actual entries. These entries were actually made right in the field, in the bottom of slit trenches, back of trucks, sometimes even under fire! They are personable, and often well written, though later on, particularly during the difficult Battle of the Scheldt, they got more clinical, and MUCH longer. I liked the top entry, for 14 July 1944, as they describe a lady in a liberated city cutting up her daughter's hair ribbon and giving the French flag coloured pieces to the officers as souveniers. And of course, how difficult it was for the Commanding Officer to pull his Adjutant away from the pretty girls. All this in the afternoon, but in the morning they had undergone shelling, and had a couple of wounded! Man! What a life that must have been! Note that there was a VERY good reason why the only PT the guys got that day was deepening the slit trenches!
They are almost always written in a very optomistic fashion. I am reminded sometimes as I read these notes of the orders Nelson used to give to his carpenters (people who fix battle damage on ships) to always grin, and smile, no matter what! They used to say they could tell the carpenters below decks by the fixed "death's head" grins they always wore as they ran around trying to stop leaks below the waterline. These diaries are no different. No matter how bad they got mauled, they always say something like "well, we gave as good as we got, and the CO was very proud of his men."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Fort Manuel, Malta

This time last year..... I was in Malta. Here are some holiday snaps... Different views than you get from the Malta Tourism Board!

Fort Manuel is now totally disused. It is situated on a little island to the west of Valetta...not the Grand Harbour, but the one to the west. It is overlooked by Valetta, so it really was not so useful as all that. After the Napoleonic Wars, it was turned into a hospital for highly contagious diseases, so you can imagine it has a lot of ghosts floating around it. I imagine the developers would give their eyeteeth to have the land to stick a hotel on it!

These pictures were taken mostly from the walls of the city of Valetta, though the bottom one is from a boat. As you can see, the walls are VERY thick, and broad at the top.
The very top pic is of the entrance to the harbour. You can see all the building going on...which will change the whole skyline. However, in the long run, the Maltese habit of putting all the tourists in the same place (like Miami!) will pay off in less urban sprawl. Urban sprawl is a very hot topic in Malta...the entire Island would be built over if the developers had their way!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Warning Decals

I don't know why I find this funny, but darn it, I guess I'm going straight to hell 'cause I do! Seems there was a fellow who stole a car in Winnipeg, drove it like a maniac, then crashed it into another car. A bunch of people dragged the thief out of the car and laid a beating on him, and sent him into the hospital. Talk show hosts are having a field day taking calls from people who think he either DID get what he deserved, or he DIDN'T deserve that! I wasn't there, but the debate is still ongoing, and I have little opinion one way or the other, but I tend to believe that somebody who engages in a felony, endangers a lot of people, and seriously injures another person should be taken out of the gene pool.

Now a fellow Winnipeger named Travis Blair has decided to create a sarcastic bumper sticker (reproduced above by permission) warning other would be car theives.

Monday, January 15, 2007


The Upper Canada Village is Canada's answer to Jamestown. Well, sort of. Unlike Jamestown, UCV never really existed. However when the St. Lawrence Seaway was created, a lot of nice old historical buildings were fated to be drowned forever by all those wiers and dams. So they moved many of them, and created a village similar to what would be found along the St. Lawrence in 1867. There is a blacksmith shop, a broom maker's shop, a school house, a cobblers, a flour mill, and a whole lot more.

Normally it is closed through the winter, though of course there is a caretaker staff who string quite modern strings of lights all around the buildings, and during the 12 days of Christmas, they hold a festival of lights. The gentle horses pull the sleighs and carriages thorugh the streets, and there are choirs in the church, bread baking in the bakery, and cheese being made and sold in the general store.

There is no attempt to really re-create is too cold, and during the evenings, electric lights and heaters make the experience bearable..and Upper Canada Village becomes a sort of theme park. But thats okay. After all, everybody likes a sleigh ride!

And we didn't have any a lot of the magic was missing. Wagons replaced the sleighs, and their hooves made a sort of "klink klink" sound on the frozen ground. But the chocolate was hot, the horses pretty, everybody refused to sing carols (a blessing), and it was a better use of an evening than watching "Its a Wonderful Life" again.

Friday, January 12, 2007


Went to a recital. This is Daito....a combination of various Chinese Martial Arts.
The fellow with the glasses in the bottom pic was once one of my students. He always WAS good. We were invited to be guests at the next new year's recital. I'll think about that!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Party at the Duc's House

(stag's note... It is helpful to remember that these paintings were actually "miniatures", and in fact, were only about 2 hands high. Not much bigger than what you see on the screen now, and certainly smaller than the big one you see when you click on the image.)
January is a rare inside picture of one of the castles...likely the Duc Du Berry's own place. January 7th is Christmas on the Julian Calendar, the "twelfth day of Christmas", epiphany. Christmas was very solemn, and people often fasted and prayed for the full 12 days. Epiphany would be like Mardi Gras!
what follows is from the Christus Rex web site....
We see here the day chosen for exchanging gifts.

Jean de Berry enjoyed giving and receiving; Paul de Limbourg and his brothers used to participate in the festivities, presenting the prince with an object worthy of their artistry.The Duke sits at his table, surrounded by friends. Behind him the blaze of a large fire in the monumental fireplace is guarded by a wickerwork screen. Above the fireplace rises a red silk canopy bearing the Duke's heraldic motifs: golden fleurs-de-lys, strewn on a blue ground. Wounded swans and bears symbolize the Duke's love for a lady called Ursine (ours: bear, cygne: swan).

Tapestries hanging behind the canopy depict knights emerging from a fortified castle to confront the enemy; the few decipherable words of the poetry inscribed at the top of the tapestries seem to indicate a representation of the Trojan War as imagined in medieval France.

The table is covered with a damask cloth and laid with platters, plates, and a beautiful gold saltcellar in the shape of a ship, which is referred to in the inventories

as the "salière du pavillon."

The Duke's little dogs wander freely among the dishes. Behind the Duke stand two young men whose coiffures and dress suggest figures from the scenes of April, May, or August. One of them casually leans on the back of the Duke's chair. They might be close family members or princes of his retinue.A prelate with sparse white hair and a purple coat sits on the Duke's right, thanking him for this honor. He is probably a close friend, Martin Gouge, Bishop of Chartres, who shared the Duke's love of beautiful books. Behind him several figures are seen entering and stretching their hands toward the fire; the chamberlain encourages them, saying "Approche approche!" "Come in, come in ! "

Other figures follow, including a man with an angular, willful face, who wears a cap folded over one ear. Paul Durrieu (Les Très riches Heures de Jean de France, duc de Berry, p. 131 ) believes Paul de Limbourg intended this figure to be a self-portrait, a hypothesis which appears all the more credible since the coifed head reappears in two other books of hours by the Limbourgs: the Petites heures (Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris) and the Belles heures (The Cloisters, New York). If the hypothesis were carried even further, we could identify a hooded figure greedily drinking from a cup as one of the brothers, and the woman behind him, whose face is partially hidden, as Paul de Limbourg's wife, Gillette le Mercier, the daughter of a Bourges burgher.

A cup-bearer, a pantler, and a carver, busy waiting on table in front of the officers of the ducal court, complete this lively tableau which recreates a familiar scene from the life at the court of Jean de Berry.For a description of the figures in the tympanum above, see the month of November (folio 11v).

Saturday, January 06, 2007

New Years

This year we did a murder mystery. People seemed to really enjoy themselves. I was going to have a bonfire into which people could throw their negative thoughts (written down and sealed in an envelope) but it rained! Yes! It rained! In Ottawa! On New Years' Eve!

So we soaked in the hot tub instead, and solved a murder mystery. Every person in the room is a suspect. The whole exercise resembles a game of "Clue", you know....Col. Mustard in the Library with a Candlestick... Clearly the camera was struggling in the low light, but can't have everything!
Top pic....Ian G. asking the difficult questions. Thats my living room...lots of weapons on the walls. Beside Ian is his lady wife, Alison P. who is carefully keeping notes. To Ian's right is Carl and Anita, while Erin (age ten!) is struggling to stay awake on her mom's lap.
middle pic....same crew. The standing fellow is Dan who is in the process of evading another question. He writes these games...and I want to get him to write me one for next year.
And in the bottom pic is Andrew and his lovely wife Lisa. And a proper view of Erin's mom, Tracy. Erin ate too much and had a tummy ache most of the night. Well, what can I have to learn sometime.
Surprisingly enough, though we had 20 people there, there was very little drinking. I think most people knew they had to drive later on, and a couple of people crashed over night, mostly because they were good to drive, but TOO TIRED!
A good time had by all.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Imaginary abodes

Here are some lovely photoshopped houses. Makes me wish they were real, but alas! Anyway, this is for your enjoyment. Click on the images to enlarge.

(Oh, and check out my posting on my rant blog...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Jason's Art

These little trolls are the creation of a local fellow, Jason. Not one of them is more than two inches high.
(click on the images to enlarge...though admitedly they are pretty much life size already!)