Monday, April 30, 2007

Shop Demo

Shop Demo. This is an armour I made from pieces which were just lying around, usually because they were cut too small. During a slow time last December, I gathered them all up, and made an armour out of them. Doesn't look too bad. The lass is a good friend's daughter, who was doing a "unit" on medieval, and came by for a shop tour.

Its like the armour was made for her!

Here I am demonstrating how to take lumbs and bumps out of metal with the English Wheel. Nice toy, that wheel!

And here is where I put the lumps and bumps into the metal in the first place. Just a simple matter of pounding the steel down depressions in the wood. Well, seems to work. Click on the images to enlarge.

Friday, April 27, 2007

New Basic Class starting

Looking forward to a new basic Chivalrous SwordHandling Class. Starts this coming Monday. Yaaah!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Nothing like pushing the envelope!

There is something about this pile of machinery which seems like it "should" be a transformer. Don'tcha think?

The first production motorcycle. What a neat design! I think it might even be a steam engine! Each stroke of the piston creates one revolution of the back wheel. Looks like a blast!

Hmmmm. might be a problem here.

And why you should wear leather pants as well! This looks painful.

Love bikes. Went for the first ride of the year on Friday afternoon. Wonderful!

NONE of these are of me, okay! click on the images to enlarge.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Arcata Eye Police Blotter

Arcata California, like many small cities, has its own neswpaper, and in that newspaper they publish the police log. It seems that Arcata police have a lot of time on their hands, and are also remarkably literate. Their police log is a remarkable document.

Here is a sample....

Fabric worshippers donate frightful fridgeful o' poo – February 27, 2007
10:19 p.m. A couple who live in a red car on Villa Way got into a fight on a nearby resident’s porch. She wore a hoody that matched their mobile residence; he, conforming to the unwritten law of nighttime male-female clashes, was shirtless, and that probably helped the taser deliver an unencumbered jolt. [More]

Obnoxious + oblivious = loud – Jan. 2, 2007
11:31 p.m. Sounds of laughing and screaming gave way to those of a female wailing in pain on Union Street. At first no one came to the door (we have no evidence whatsoever – none – that the usual contraband dope-fiend devices were being frantically secreted away with a cop at the door), but eventually two dudes explained that someone’s girlfriend got all aggro when someone tipped something over, and again, we have zero ev that it was a bong. [More]


Makes you want to question the decision to move to the "left coast".

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Why does life have to be so....

(apparently the top pic is an actual instruction on how to turn left at that particular intersection. Click on it to enlarge.)
Second one down answers a great many questions which have been much on my mind of late.
There you go Jennifer, a peeps pic for you!
And of course, the bottom one is for me...who feels like all kinds of idiot for getting a parking ticket this morning!

Friday, April 13, 2007

April Duc du Berry

The scene is at Dourdan, the property of the Duc de Berry from 1400, improved and fortified by him. The towers and dungeon of the château, whose ruins are visible to this day, rise at the top of a hill.Crowded nearby is the village. At its foot flows the Orge upon which two boats are seen.

Figures in chatoyant robes are grouped against the green background of fields, meadows, and woods. Two maidens bend to pick violets while a betrothed couple exchange rings before their parents.The composition is admirable: the figure groups make up a rounded pyramid. Contrast emphasizes the colors of the sumptuous garments: the fiancée's pale blue stands out against the mother's black, the beautiful pink of the maiden kneeling in the foreground opposes the dark blue of the other girl. The fiancé wears princely apparel strewn with golden crowns.

Expressions are rendered with subtlety: the fiancé searches the face of his betrothed while presenting her with the ring toward which she extends her finger and lowers her eyes. The mother is visibly moved; the father turns to look affectionately at his daughter. The Limbourgs have created a harmony of color, composition, and emotion that is perfectly attuned to the scene represented and to the charm of the new season.

The artists seem to have attempted to represent a real event, about which several hypotheses are feasible; we suggest the following one. In April, 1410, at the time the illustrations for the Très Riches Heures were begun, the Duc de Berry's eleven-year-old granddaughter, Bonne, daughter of Bonne de Berry and the Comte Bernard d'Armagnac, became engaged to Charles d'Orléans, who was then sixteen.An agreement was reached at Gien and the wedding was celebrated four months later at Riom. The couple might have met at Dourdan since the Duke had put the château at the disposal of his future grandson. Thus the miniature could recall the family gathering when Charles was bound to the one of whom he was later to say, "Ah! qu'il fait bon regarder, la gracieuse, bonne et belle!" "Ah! how good it is to watch her, graceful, kind, and beautiful!"Although this is only a hypothesis, it is a fairly likely one, which would well befit the charm of the painting.
click on the image to enlarge.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Great Viagara Spill

The Pfeizer company is truly sorry about the sinking of the boatload of Viagara from its plant in Chicago. Above are satellite pictures of the event. As you can see, it was quite spectacular. The top picture is a satellite picture before the event took place, the middle picture is during the rescue mission, and of course, the last picture is the result of the boat slipping below the waves for the last time.
The seamen clearly had a hard time of it.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Random things

Yesterday was interesting....they shut all the lights off downtown Ottawa around the War Memorial, and projected the names of men who had died at Vimy. So I had to see that! Interesting enough I guess....though I wish I was in France to see the crowds. Seems everybody who was anybody was there...Queen of England, Prime Ministers of France and Canada. There were plenty of Germans in the crowd, but they didn't speak up. Too bad, only 20 miles down the road is a cemetary with forty five thousand German dead in it. This was just the first world war! That amount is difficult to comprehend. I note that the French left a lot of extra space in that particular cemetary. Presumably to leave room for the "next time".

The battle honour of "Vimy Ridge" is a little will not be able to find a Canadian who has NOT heard of it, and of course you would be hard pressed to find a British or French person who HAD heard of it. Can't state for sure about the Germans, but they remember the Canadians...they called us "Devils in Skirts". I hope they were refering to the kilts so many regiments wore. Generally speaking, Canadians believe that Vimy Ridge was the battle which defined Canada as a country as opposed to being just a British Colony. Certainly the Canadian commanders had a difficult time keeping them together in Canadian units rather than dispersing them willy nilly into the replacement cadre for mauled British units.

Seems Brenda's Grandfather actually went up that miserable hill...he was in the 26th battalion, who charged up the ridge about a mile south of hill 145, which of course is the site of the present beautifully restored monument. You can see in the map on the previous post where the 26th battalion charged under the command of a very junior but veteran Lieutenant Thomas William Brewer. Shortly after the big push, he was sent to hospital in England for (of all things) sciatica. Guess it was slugging all those sand bags into place.
Not bad for a fella who had survived The Somme. They liked his performance so much that they promoted him from the ranks in THAT bit of unpleasantness.

Incidently, the reason they name the hills like they do.....hills are named by how high in meters they are above sea level. Although rare, there might be several "hill 145's" in an area, but normally you know where to go because you see "145" written as a tiny little contour circle on a contour map.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Worst thing about this kind of weather is that I can't get my motorcycle into service! Not only is it dangerous to ride in this weather because of the slippery roads, but parts of my body get frozen off in the wind blast. I have some stories of biking in marginal weather....will definitely have to think about putting them down here.

My friends all over the world are posting pictures of flowers blooming. I look out in my backyard and see snow. Hmmmmppphhhh.

I think the Easter Bunny is still hibernating. I think Brenda has wrangled an Easter Dinner invite tomorrow. Nice dinner, then a visit to the vigil. Should be an interesting day. I see that the visitors are arriving to work in the shop (I open my shop on Saturdays to anybody who wants to work here and experience the "joy" of metalworking)


Friday, April 06, 2007

Vimy Ridge

Part of the Battle of Arras.

Attacking together for the first time, the four Canadian divisions stormed the ridge at 5:30am on 9 April 1917. More than 15,000 Canadian infantry overran the Germans all along the front. Incredible bravery and discipline allowed the infantry to continue moving forward under heavy fire, even when their officers were killed. There were countless acts of sacrifice, as Canadians single-handedly charged machine-gun nests or forced the surrender of Germans in protective dugouts. Hill 145, the highest and most important feature of the Ridge, and where the Vimy monument now stands, was captured in a frontal bayonet charge against machine-gun positions. Three more days of costly battle delivered final victory. The Canadian operation was an important success, even if the larger British and French offensive, of which it had been a part, had failed. But it was victory at a heavy cost: 3,598 Canadians were killed and another 7,000 wounded.

This was victory?

Well, it is the 90th anniversary coming up. The last Canadian soldier who fought at Vimy died at a nursing home only a few years ago. All his life every night he woke up screaming. For the last ten years, he re-lived the experience every day as well...he never left the trenches for those last years.

Bloody Hell

When you scrape away the topsoil around the monument, you find the chalk and clay stained with thousands of streaks of rust, all side by side, and vertical into the earth, not even a fingers width between them. They are the rusted remnants of splinters from shells. Permanently staining the earth for miles up and down the Douai Ridge.

Makes me sick.

The picture is of Hitler touring the battle memorial site during world war two. He never touched war memorials, probably because he was wounded in the battle of Arras years before. He had a lot of respect for those men.

There will be a Vimy vigil downtown this weekend...all the lights, including street lights will be turned off, and the names of the fallen will be projected on the buildings around the war memorial. I will be there, and likely I will weep, as I usually do in such situations. In about four weeks, I will be at Hill 45 myself on Vimy Ridge. All the people will be gone, and maybe the grass will be recovering by then. Perhaps we will find the battles that Brenda's grandfather took part in....he was wounded before the "big push".

May they rest in peace.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Rome History

This little essay is from

Obviously this is not written in English first, in fact, this essay has a sort of "babelfish" look to it. However, it is worth the effort to struggle through the odd syntax.

It deals with the excavations they are doing on the Palantine Hill. It is really difficult to carry out real excavations there since the nature of an archaeological excavation is to systematically destroy the place, and the Romans are not about to let their precious Palantine Hill vanish in a "dig".
The top picture is of the Palantine Hill as it looks now, and you can see the Circus Maximus to the right.
Click on it to enlarge!
The bottom pic is, well, just for fun! Do androids dream of electric sheep? Do electric sheep need to be plugged in? Like I said, a fun picture. If people want, I will post a bunch more of the sheep up on these pages.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Roman Emperor's Insignia Unearthed
Archaeologists have discovered what says are the only existing imperial standards that belong to Maxentius emperor the precious objects that were buried to preserve it and to keep them from enemies when its rival Constantina defeated it. The excavation underneath the hill of the Palatine of Rome near the given Colosseum return upon articles including three lances and four javelins that the experts this are pressing for his complete it the pushes generally above give fragment return only and the fact that they are the only known devices of his class.Clementina Panella, the archaeologist who made the discovery, said that the standards probable were hidden by the people of Maxentius in an attempt to preserve the memory of the emperor after Constantina I in the battle of 321 A.D of the bridge of Milvian a little while defeated it crucial for the history of the Roman empire that Constantina saw become the undisputed rule of the west. "Once it has lost, their objects could not continue existing and, at the same time, they could not fall in the hands of the enemy" she said Friday.Some of the objects, that accompanied the emperor during their aspects public, are created to be the base for the standards of the emperor rectangular or the triangular flags, civil employees this.Scepter imperial with a carved flower and a globe, and a number of crystal spheres, believed to be a symbolic Earth representation, also was discovered. The discovery was announced Wednesday by minister Francesco Rutelli of the culture of Italy during a visit to New York. The articles, the wood boxes inner and surrounded in linen and silk, were found buried in a sanctuary the last year and since then they have been recovered and they have been analyzed. The depth of the burial to date does not prohibit to experts to 4to early century A.D. civil employees of the ministry this."These devices belonged clearly to the emperor, specially scepter, that very is elaborated, it is not an article that you would let to some other have,� Panella said. "Reason why we know, there are no similar results" said Angelo Bottini, the superior civil employee of the state for archaeology in Rome. "Similar representations are only in currencies and paintings, but never we saw them for true" he said. Bottini added that the devices will be demonstrated to the public in February.Darius A. Arya, archaeologist and professor in the American institute for the Roman culture, said that the discovery was highly unusual. "Here he is something preciously that represents the greatness of Maxentius, buried by its loyal people to save something who belonged to him" Arya said, that it was not implied in the excavation."All meeting, she represented the energy of this particular emperor and you did not want that the enemy or usurper obtained to get a hold of it". The excavations in the Palatine in recent decades have given to return upon wonders such as the house of the first emperor of Rome, Augustus. The experts said that much he still must be opened, hidden in underground alleys.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Mexico's Crystal Cave

Well, what do you think Jennifer, a visit to Mexico in the fall? What a great looking cave! Not as batty and dank as your usual caves though!

Monday, April 02, 2007


Well, its the season to get riding. Get a load of this bike. No, look at it closely. See the wheels? They are lexan! Not spokes, not wires, not mags, but clear plastic!

Of course they cost a cool five grand a wheel, but hey, its an evolution, if not a revolution!

(click on image to enlarge)