Tuesday, February 27, 2007

More HomeSchoolers

Everybody trying on the chain mail. They also tried on the metal armour, but these chain shirts were more comfortable. That Roman stuff was all made by Jean V. for his son. I think it looks pretty good, and thanks for the loan Jean! As you can see, the kids loved it. And you can see my gargoyles overlooking the proceedings.

HomeSchoolers Part 1

Had a bunch in t'other day. We made chain maille, pounded a few rivets, and tried on armour.

Click on the images to enlarge.
Note, these images are not public domain.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Tai Chi Right Relationship

Right relationship

Being masterless is not an arrogant condition.

It is all about 'right relationship'.

Learn from whoever can teach you something.

A great number of people can offer you knowledge and teach you new skills - seek them out if you want to.

What is important is to keep your relationship with teachers and masters in perspective.

Do not imbue the person with any additional status.

They are just a man or a woman.

The same as you.

You do not need to bow and scrape.

You do not need to pay an extortionate amount of money in order to train with them.

Treat teachers as resources and friends.

Not gurus.

(From Dynamic Balancing Tai Chi...http://dynamicbalancingtaichi.blogspot.com/

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ice, and Winterlude pictures

The pictures are marvelous...all the ones I WANTED to take but was too cold to do so! Thom has photodocumented all of Winterlude, the snow sculptures, the Lingerie contest (okay, NOT the lingerie contest...I was just trying to get Zlanth to go to his web site) . The one above is his, and clearly it is better than mine by a mile! So drop in, and tell 'im I sent ya!
Thank you Thom for thinking of me! Regards. And a cup o hot chocolate t'ye.
Winterlude is the great Ottawa mid winter festival...it has been going on for several years now, with ice skating on the Canal lending a sort of Hans Brinker attitude. There are always lots of huge snow sculptures...many of them as much as 15 feet high!, and of course, the gorgeous ice sculpture competition every year. Most years, we have a thaw at just the worst time, and we jokingly refer to it as "waterlude". A couple of years ago, they dropped a lot of the acts because the costs were rising too high...we called those years the "quaalude" years. Fortunately now we have lots of acts, lots of singers and dancers. And this year the weather was perfect...if you are an ice cube! The night I met Thom, it was pushing 30 below, and thats COLD! Even for a Canuck like me, it was cold! I had to switch from gloves to mittens.
(Oh, and I see the Senators just aced the Sabers 6 to 5. Right on! Go Sens! Woo hoo! Considering the issue was nearly in doubt there, with Buffalo scoring 4 goals in the first five minutes of the third period! Wake up Ottawa! Well, the did, and considering some funny goals they did okay. What do I mean by funny? Well, Emery was being hit from two sides by Buffalo players, and the puck sat on the red line. A Saber reached in, and hooked Emery's skate and knocked the puck in...just as whistle blew! We were all on the edge of our seats!)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Mars Face closeups

click on these images to enlarge.
Top pic is the closer fly by. You can clearly see, all in a row, the "face", the "skull" and the Pyramid.
The middle picture is a side scan radar image of the "skull". Okay, its looking less skull-like. Fine.
The bottom picture is a computer built image from side scan radar. About as close as we are going to get without actually going there ourselves. And gee..look at that! No longer a "face" but rather a "mesa". Well, Well, Well. Not really the "face of Jesus" that we sort of wanted to see!
I didn't get to see a side scan picture of the pyramid. Maybe because "they" don't want me to see that it really IS a pyramid built by space faring ancient Egyptians.
Well, this is just what interested me this fine day. Thanks all for dropping in! Tomorrow I'll be discussing the Bermuda Triangle. If you look at the arrangements of the mountains in the top picture, it bears an uncanny resemblace to the Carribean Islands which make up the Bermuda Triangle. You heard it here first!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Face on Mars

This is the pic which started all the fuss. A few years back they did an orbital pass of Mars, the red planet, and noticed that there was a sculture of a face a full kilometer and a half long of a human face. click on the images to enlarge.
The top pic is the first picture. The bottom pic is ten years farther along. The middle pic is a map of the area. This map is essential to realizing just how freakin' BIG that area is!
Upon looking at the bottom map, you can see all sorts of formations. For instance, just south of the "face" is a great big "skull"(North is to the right.) A casual glance will show us all sorts of other things...for instance, I spotted a series of pyramids which are in the exact arrangement of the Pyramids at Giza, which I understand are themselves in exact correlation to the major stars in the constellation Orion.
Not surprisingly, a large number of nutbars came out from under their rocks to explain the "face of Jesus" on Mars, and the connection between Moses, Pharoh, or whatever and the people on Mars. The whole thing is quite amusing, and I let YOU, my gentle readers, do some google searches to see how a chance arrangement of rocks started a landslide of speculation. Whole books have been written on the subject!
Tomorrow, I shall post the "closeup" pictures of this phenomon and you will wonder where all the fuss came from!


This would not be quite as much fun as popping out a couple of keys at random and exchanging them for other ones, but these keyboards seem to have potential. I hear my friend was planning to change the keys for his boss's name from "Thomas" so that every time he hunt and pecked his signature, it would come out as "dimwit", but that seems so nasty.
I especially like the keyboard which is pretty much ALL "esc". There are so many times when all we want to do is to escape!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

More ice

click on these images to enlarge.

Like so many of my "night shots" they come out blurry. Ah well, blogs are like ice sculptures. My posts are pretty blurry and ephemeral, like the ice sculptures themselves.
The top picture is a gigantic 3 meter (ten foot) tall Japanese fan, only a handspan thick. Why it doesn't blow over....well...I guess its location in amongst the trees help. Every rib is faithfully carved, as well as the ribs of her parasol. The light was forever changing colour...a very neat effect, which of course made it impossible to photograph!
The middle picture is a lovely American eagle flying over the white house dome. If you look closely, you will see that essentially it is an interconnected series of arches...the inside is hollow. For scale...that is a regulation flag in the background there.
The bottom picture is the Russian entry. The domes of Moscow, and the great Russian Bear meanacing the audience in front. The bear is easily 7 feet tall, and rendered in stunning detail, and the Russian Flag is flying proudly over the domes of Moscow.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Winterlude, the mid winter festival here in Ottawa has packed up for another year, and as usual, I rarely got to any of the events. However, at least I got to wander in amongst the ice sculptures after class. It was 31 below celsius, and Brenda was just quaking with the cold. I don't feel the cold nearly as much, particularly after a vigorous couple of hours of martial arts classes! Brenda handled the camera. Because we had left the camera in the car, it was just too cold to take more than one or two pictures before she had to tuck it away under her coat. The poor batteries just didn't have it in them when they get that cold!

And because her coat was continually being opened and closed to let the camera out, she never did warm up, and after a half hour or so, she headed for the car. I was pretty much right behind her!
click on any of these images to enlarge! Its worth the trouble.
The top picture is of the famous Vimy Ridge memorial outside Arras in France. Hopefully we will be going there in May to see the original! However, this one is pretty impressive...towering up about 20 feet into the air! The sculptures are entirely carved out of blocks of clear ice, and in the evenings, they are lit up. The lights often lend an eerie quality to the carvings.
second picture, a closeup of the central statue. I had not realized that the transparent nature of this medium would make them so hard to photograph! Ah well. Like sidewalk chalk paintings, they are designed to be ephemeral. I am sure that the sculptors did not realize that in the background is the Lord Elgin Hotel, where the war rooms of the first world war were situated. And I have no doubt than none of them realize that the park that these sculptures are in are actually on the site of a "temporary" building build to house the war rooms for the Second World War!
Third one down...cannot rotate it correctly on this computer, but you can turn your head! Its a mighty wave upon which a mermaid is body surfing! Amazing detail, and captures the mood really nicely.
Fourth one down, second from the bottom..."Finding Nemo". A gigantic clownfish lurking in a gigantic sea anemone! The whole sculture must be six feet high! A little taller than me!
Bottom pic..the last of the evening. A wonderous stag, proud and easily eight feet from base to top of antler. Poor Brenda was shaking so bad at that point that this was the best of several she tried to get. Shortly after that she said "That's it. I'm going to the car!" And I was pretty close behind her!
I'll try to put some more up tomorrow.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Maltese Falcon Stolen!

Oh my gawd! The Maltese Falcon has been stolen. Somebody bring Sam Spade out of retirement!

Maltese Falcon swiped from SF restaurant
John Koopman, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, February 12, 2007
Printable Version
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(02-12) 16:46 PST -- It's been nearly 80 years since Sam Spade wandered the streets of San Francisco in search of the Maltese Falcon. Now, the statue is missing again.
John Konstin, the owner of San Francisco's John's Grill on Ellis Street, said someone broke into a locked cabinet on the second floor of his establishment and took a signed reproduction of the Maltese Falcon -- one used for publicity stills for the movie -- along with several vintage and signed books by and about Maltese Falcon author Dashiell Hammett.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentines Hearts

Oh, thats neat....the beating heart caused blogger to load multiple times. Well! Clicking on them makes them bigger. The top valentine is of course for Jennifer. A Paleospelaiarchaeoligist. (er something like that..)
The heart la machina is of course for Pei Ling...whose heart breaks regularly, but still keeps on beating.
And of course, my beating hearts are for Ovonia Red..whose heart has taken her on journeys I can only dream of!
What...no Valentine for Brenda? Of course not, she already HAS my heart.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Passchalle Handbag

Every once in a while, as I surf, I find something which is absolutely stunning in how it misses its mark. This the the Passchalle handbag. An environmentally sensitive handbag. No, really! It uses, believe it or not, recycled inner tubes. Which make a nice contrast to the Italian Nickel steel, and (get this) crocodile leather.
Oh wait, if you don't like crocodile leather, they have leather made from oil. "faux leather". Right....... Well, maybe the kitche value is worth it.

Prominently displayed throughout the web site is the "recycling" logo. What this company has done is clothe themselves in a cloak of "green respectability" without, of course, actually BEING green.

File this under "missing the point".
On the other hand, they look to be very nice hand bags. Quite well made, and the designs are very "high end" and very "cutting edge". One could see any number of hollywood celebrities using them to store their underpants. These items are just fine, and in my opinion, very nice and reasonably priced (considering)...the only drawback is their ridiculous marketing department which tries to convince people that this is a "green product".


Monday, February 12, 2007

The crab

Cancer is a huge killer these days. And always has been. Surprisingly enough, a sea creature has a defensive toxin which seems to attack the enzyme which cancer cells need to divide, but normal (non cancerous) cells can take it or leave it.
The whole article is here.

I doubt this is the final word on the subject. If I were a biologist, I would wonder how a toxin which only seems to attack cancer cells provides any protection from predators. And I would wonder if all cancers can be cured this way. Maybe some are not affected. And I would wonder if this is actually too good to be true...maybe this stuff will stunt your growth, or cause you to break out in hives. I dunno.

And as a taxpayer, I would like to know why this was discovered in 1991, and is only NOW undergoing trials.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Pardon Moi

Screech, pardon moi, screech, pardon moi, screech….
February 7th, 2007, filed by Robert Basler
Sometimes a story comes along that just completely restores your faith in human nature, and this is one of those.
It seems there is a tradition in France that a newly-elected president will pardon past traffic violations. Sort of an “all is forgiven” kind of act of generosity. That’s the way it has been, and people know it, and there will be a new president in May.
So here is the good part. What are French drivers doing with this bit of information? It appears they are driving like psychopaths in a carnival dodge-em car ride, because heck, it’s all gonna be pardoned, anyway.
Regardless of what happens in May, traffic deaths were up nearly 14 percent last month, and the new leader probably won’t be able to do much for those people. Here is the story:

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Greatest Guitar Solos EV-VER

Guitar World has complied a list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos with Stairway to Heaven at No. 1. Cityrag took it a step further and dug up a video link for each of the top 20.

Be there or be square. Personally I thought "Freebird" by Len Skynyrd should have been number one. But thats just me. What do YOU (my beloved readers) think?

Friday, February 02, 2007

February Duc du Berry

(click on the image to enlarge.)
February, the coldest month of the year. This is my favorite of the lot...no castles, no bishops or mucky mucks. Just ordinary folks trying to survive.
Here, we can see that things are being made ready for the spring...the beehives have all been cleaned out, and made ready for their apian tenants, the cart has been repaired, and stashed away in the yard. The sheaves of grain for the fluffy sheep are being shared by the birds (who probably can't find food anywhere else). The barnyard is very well fenced with a wattle fence, the barrels of beer have been stored outside out of the way. The inside is quite warm, the tenants have hung their underwear to dry in front of the fire, while the mistress of the house delicatly looks away and is much more modest...though no less chilled from doing the morning chores.
To the right is a large pottery kiln. I have had people suggest that might be a grainery, but I saw "bottle kilns" like this one all over the south of England. Admittedly, they were more squat, but then, the ones I saw were nearly modern...dating from the 19th century. (Another commentator calls it a dovecote. That could be...the door is more likely on a dove cote than a pottery kiln...just never seen a solid stone or brick dovecote though.) The wood cutter is copicing the trees, taking the top parts, and leaving tall stumps and his assistant is bringing wood to the village for heat and cooking fuel. The trees have been cut about 4 feet above the ground to allow for copicing...a process where the tree is not killed by harvesting the wood, but rather, shoots and withies will grow out of the stump, to be in turn harvested for wattle. Wattle is what the fences and walls of the house are made of. That explains the ugly bumpiness of the trunks. In the yard is a beautifully rendered apple tree...all ready to burst out into a symphony of blossoms. (Another commentator called it a hare tree...also known as a "corkwood tree". Looks like an apple tree to me!)
And in the distance, a pretty little village, with the distinctive church spires of Burgundy and northern France.