Thursday, May 31, 2007

St. Paul's outside the Walls

Had a great visit in the Flower Market this morning...lots of nice street vendors selling fresh produce. Bought a little box of raspberries for Brenda, and ended up eating most if it myself! The flower market is famous in its own was here that Julius Caesar was stabbed to death, and also here where the Inquisition used to burn the heretics. There is a great statue of the last one, Jan Bruno who broods over the proceedings. Right now, of course, there are simply lots of competing musicians, and illegal immigrants selling counterfeit gucci purses, as well as silly girls in sun dresses, harrassed American fathers trying to herd them past the gelati vendors (and failing not so miserably!) and countless farmers trying to move their wonderfully fresh produce.
A casual walk down the road to the Pantheon. I had forgotten how big that pile of rock is! It is showing its age, but was a marvel in its time, designed by Appolonious the Greek, who had designed so much of Hadrian's Villa, and also public baths all over Rome. Hadrian had Appolonious put to death for saying that Hadrian's designs for domes looked like pumpkins. Good safety tip...don't critisize the Emperor....grin! We didn't bother to go in....too darned many tourists....and besides, we had other temples to check out, ones that are off the beaten track.
So, we crossed the Spinonna bridge. The Spinonna is the "eyeglass" or big hole through the middle of the bridge which is there to prevent a high flood from washing the whole works away. The Romans keep a close watch on whether water is going through that "spyglass°" during flood season because it means water troubles! A nice bridge, very pretty, and made from the marble we saw being quarried up towards Tivoli yesterday. On the other side of the bridge is the neighbourhood of "Travertina", literally, "across the river". This is the "true Rome" according to the people who live here, and is home to a lot of cool stuff besides the Vatican, for instance, it has the oldest church in Rome, St. Mary in Travertina, as well as John Cabot University and women who wear the highest heels in Europe. (not that I was noticing or anything...)
St. Mary's is even older than St. Clements church, though there is very little which is original that you can is all pretty much "improved" by the de Medici families during the Italian Renaissance, late 13th century. Within the last century, they have cleaned out most of the trashy rococco stuff, and gone back to a nice elegant church, though the ceiling is one of those brown and gilt masterpieces which define an age! Worth the trip just to see the ceiling.
Then after walking over half of Rome looking for the sister church (we never did find it in amongst the twisting narrow, decidedly "un-Roman" medieval streets we just decided to catch a bus and go see St. Paul's.
In rome, burials took place outside the city walls, and of course, when Paul was killed, they buried him "outside the walls". The church was built over the site of St. Paul's grave. It is the second biggest church in the world. The layout is in the form of a "tau" cross, and we went in the side entrance, thinking it was the main entrance. The huge room was pretty breathtaking...with fancy coffer work on the ceiling, and portraits of all the popes high up on the walls. Then, we went a little further and discovered that we were actually behind the altar, and THEN we found the nave! Oh my! Yup, its pretty big all right. Its like, Houston Astrodome size! Only in granite and marble!
The Vatican is apparently only marginally bigger, but then, all its space is in the nave, not in the cross. This church is one of three which is actually not in Italian territory, but belong to the Vatican! Unlike the big old church of St. Peter at the Vatican, this one is stunning by its sheer size and glory, not in the over the top rococco design which is the hallmark of the most vistied church in the world! This one is plain, with understated windows of fancy alabaster instead of stained glass, and the colums which delineate the double aisles are simple plain grey granite. Though it would still take 4 men to link hands around each pillar!

So this makes three major churches I visited today. St Mary's in Traverstina, the oldest church in Rome, the Pantheon, which really "should" be the oldest, but then it didn't become a church until much later, and of course St. Paul outside the Walls, the second biggest in the world.
Today was a little better for tourists who showed a little more respect. Honestly though, its never the Americans! Its the Germans, and occasionally the British! Did my conservative heart good to see a fellow refused entry to St. Paul's because he was wearing short pants and sandles. (at least they werent socks with sandals!!! That is a shooting offense!)

The tour groups which came in were more subdued than usual, and in fact, one Spanish tour group went into one of the "little" side chapels for a private mass. Then the priest guided them all around the site. Another group were Polish (I think) and they all knelt around the railing which fences off the grave site and had a mass prayer. Very touching.

Well, enough of this. This not having picture abilities sucks...think of the words I could have saved if only I could post pictures. Well, I am sure that if you google any of these places, you will find more pictures than even I could possibly take and post!
(and by the way, is anybody reading this blog? I see no comments!)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hadrian's Villa

The day started with a gorgous blue sky, and cool. Perfect for another outdoor adventure. So, we went to Hdrian's Villa in Tivoli. The day did not start well...I suspect a breakfast would have improved my mood, but the snack bar and gift shop were outside the turnstile. And there were no in-out priveledges. So I did the whole 5 kilometer site on a bowl of corn flakes. Then it started to rain. We really MUST get around to purchasing umbrellas if we expect to do anything in this city!
Ah well, the good part is that we met a wonderful Australian couple who are working off the free weeks they got when they bought their time share...some 12 weeks I think. What a summer they are having!
This site is the place where the Emperor hung his hat when he wasn't in Greece, or Egypt, or Syria, or whatever! That guy traveled a LOT! But, when he was home, he liked the fancy digs, and there was no doubt about it, he got that! Three separate bath complexes, several reflecting ponds, and statuary from all over the empire. The whole thing built over a basement complex which was for the about "upstairs-downstairs" division! There was a fabulous hotel for distinguished guests with a communal latrine with marble seats just so the guests could have company while they did their business. The Emperor himself had a little round villa right in the middle of the complex surrounded by a little moat....nothing like it anywhere in the world! Your choice of chapels for your choice of gods or dieties. All in all, a wonderous place. I am glad I went.
Then after a long hike to get the bus, a long bus ride back to Rome, we stopped at Termini for some supper, then home.
Hopefully, tomorrow, no rain!
Brenda and Bill

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ostia Antica in the rain

As usual, when we decide to do a day outdoors, the heavens open up! Brenda was soaked through almost immediately, but my raincoat worked just fine! It was worth the crazy weather though to see the remains of a Roman city which had been abandoned since the 6th century. Fifteen hundred years of time did it no favors, but fortunately, it was covered up pretty good by blowing beach sand, and was extensively excavated in the 1930's til now. Fresoes in situe, msaics all over the place! Five different baths, a cathedral dating from the fourth century, and 3 temples devoted to Mythras. Lots of tenement apartment buildings, and of course, plenty of houses lived in by the mucky mucks.
My feet have not forgiven me for walking on original Roman pavement for ten hours. Just glad I didn't turn an ankle. People have told me that it is better than Pompii, and having been to both, I believe it! Okay, there are SOME things that Pompii does better...they have the Villa of the Mysteries after all, and its very own gladitorial arena. If Ostia Antica has an arena, it is still under the fields full of poppies.
The museum there is full of statuary, mostly from the tombs that lined the roads leading into the city. Lots of wealthy people lived there in the day! And they liked to be remembered. Coming home on the tramway was a fellow who was the spitting image of one of the statues in the museum. Curly hair, bumpy nose and all!

Well, enough of this. Can't wait to illustrate all these blog entries with the what...250 pictures we have taken since we arrived in Rome!

Bill and Brenda

Monday, May 28, 2007

Cold wet Roma

So here I figured, we roasted and toasted and sweated over the Appian Way yesterday, so what the heck...take the "archeobus", an open air tour bus which covers most of the interesting things on the Appia way. My feet needed a break, so why not. Why not indeed! As soon as we got onto the Appian Way, the heavens opened up, and we all got soaked. Not that the bus driver cared, HE was under cover! Very chilly rain, and the bus did not stop, but moved at 60 km/hr for another 30 minutes. Oh wait, it DID stop once....for fifteen minutes, in a field with NO COVER! Blowdy 'ell!
So, we jumped off it as soon as we got to where there were "normal" busses (you know, ones with roofs!), and went to the bus scrum outside the train station. A new shirt and an expresso warmed me up, and against my better judgement, I followed Brenda outside to take the last run of the archaeobus. Seemed like a dreadful waste of money to just do the short tour. And the heavens cleared, the sun came out, and it was absolutely gorgeous. So I sat down and chatted with a nice couple from Peterborough, (the one in the UK), and of course, sat right in a wet spot.
So, without getting robbed or anything particularly interesting, we sat outside the "Pyramid" train station drinking cappuccino, looking at pretty girls (and as Brenda says, I wasn't looking at pretty girls, but I did see her eyeing a couple of young Roman boys though!).

And thats about it for our adventure. Upstairs now to get some echacacia to counter these chills.

Appian Way

Took the train and subway to St. John's Lateran Church. This pile of marble is actually where the Popes hung out while the Vatican was being built, and it is still Vatican Territory. So technically, when you are in the church, you have left Italy, and are in the soverign state of The Vatican. Lots of tourists, even though there was a mass going on. Men in short pants, women in halter tops...c'mon wouln't go into your own church dressed like that would you? I noticed that most of the American women were wearing shawls or had slipped on their sweaters, but the German speaking ones were the worst. Ah well, that sour expression on St. Cyril's face was probably not because of a visitor with a naval ring and camera! I just wanted to shout at some of the 40 something men in short pants and socks-with-sandals that hey, your not in Disney-Land! At least I didn't snap a picture of the priest (a full cardinal no less!) while he was saying the mass!
Ah well...hard to be upset at my fellow tourists. Best to do what the locals do, and try to ignore them. We caught the bus outside St. John's Lateran to visit the Appian Way. There are two busses which go up that historic highway, and I think they use alternate bus stops. This is important because Brenda and I got separated...she went out the middle door, and the back door stayed resolutely closed in my face! Ah well, it was only a kilometer, but then again, it was a kilometer of the Appian Way, which was made for marching troops, not tour busses. When we finally got together, we had to stay on the bus for an entire run, just to cool off. We observed an interesting bus...a double decker....which leaves from the train station (and bus central!) called the "archeobus". Might be nice to have a day on a bus instead of walking every where.
When we got back into town, we looked through our "pilgrim's guide" and found an archeological site I had never visited before. It is the second oldest church in Rome, the church of San Clemente. It is built on a temple site which dates back to way before there was a Christian presence in Rome. On a hill side, there is a spring which produces lots and lots of water..fresh clean bubbling mineral water. Naturally the priests of some ancient religion decided to control that water supply and they built a neolithic temple on the spot. Then came the Romans and their Etruscan attitudes, and they built a temple to some water sprite or diety. Eventually, the soldiers decided to place an altar to Mithras on that spot, and only much later did early Christians decide to place a church there. How early...well, the third Pope is buried there.
Then Rome burnt, Nero blamed the Christians, and Diocletian fed them to the lions. But eventually things prevailed, and now there is a beautiful church which is maintained by the College of Cardinals. Through the years, the basement has been used as a church, and even now, there are several chapels down there. On the walls of the chapels are frescoes, some of which date back to the ninth century. And of course, over in the dark recesses of the basement is the old Mitheaum with the altar of Mithras, as well as the gushing spring, which is still, well, gushing. Of course I have only been describing the basement of this church. The rest of it is just as over the top and interesting. It is the headquarters of the Dominican Order, and the atrium is very peaceful, and pleasant.
The Church is lined with grey granite pillars, robbed no doubt from the old Roman Temple, and the gold mosaics in the apses light up the room. The church contains the relics of St Cyril (the friar who went into Russia to convert them, and brought to them the "cyrillic lettering" that the Russians and Ukrainians use even today).
And of course, a bus stopped right in front of the church to take us to the train station.
The Termini. This deserves a post in its own right! It is the biggest shopping mall in Rome, and you can get anything any time. No Sunday closing. Sometimes not even any closing hours at all! A 24 hour MacDonalds can come in handy at three in the morning! But Brenda likes it because there is a really good grocery store in there, and I like it because it has an excellent ice cream shop. As usual, a trip to Italy is going to spoil me for ice cream anywhere else in the world!

Well, enough of that. Time I got up for breakfast. This is the "only" internet point for the entire hotel, and there is a line up as I write this!

Regards from Rome

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Roman, er...Rome!

Right then. The eternal city of short change and pickpockets. Actually, as long as you keep your head about you, it is no worse than, say, Chicago or Toronto. Brenda was the victim last night...the guy didnt get anything, but it was a bit of a wake up call to be more vigilant.
Walked about Rome the first night, visited the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, and watched the touts at work, selling counterfeit gucci purses and watches. Rather more entertaining than watching the water pour out of the grotto behind the fountain and into the pool. There is a LOT of water in Rome...the famous aquaducts of course are no longer in use, but the sources are the same as in the old days, and huge pipes laid on the same routes bring in more water than the city can use! Every few blocks there is a corner fountain which pours fresh cold water out into the street for anybody to use. The spigots have a small hole in the top of them, and when you cover the end, the water jets up through the little hole for you to get a drink. The Trevi Fountain, for instance, is at the end of the Holy Virgin Aquaduct, and I strongly suspect that judging by the clarity of the water that it is continually fresh. If you google "Trevi Fountain" you will see what I mean. (Though you never know...I could be wrong, and they are recycling it!)
A tour through the Civic Forum, and met three lovely young women all finished their University and are taking the trip of a lifetime. Their sparkle was wonderful. Brenda and I, along with these three ladies visited Trajan's Forum, and I took plenty of pictures of the armour for the Reverend Dark. They have all the armour types perfectly illustrated, only trouble is, the scaffolding gets in the way of a good picture. Not sure why the scaffolding is even there...put perhaps it is to prevent the ubiquitous graffitti.
Earilier in the day, we had visited the convent on the Esquiline Hill, and Brenda was pretty sure the order was the same as Mother Teresa's order, judging by the blue stripes on the veil. Sure enough, we came across a statue of the good Mother herself, in a park in front of the convent, and there were several homeless people sacked out in the middle of the day around the base of it. Seems appropriate some how.
Our hotel is a bit of a come down from the palatial accomodations in Malta, but heck, its nice enough. It is clearly made for the fast cheap buck though...the fittings are all Ikea unless they could find cheaper, and the bed is a fold out couch. No, its not even that! The second single is a foam pad which fits under the couch. I though it was a joke! But no, thats how it works here! No air conditioning, or ceiling fan. They grudgingly provided us with a fan on a stand which fortunately makes enough noise to cover the road noise.
Ah well, it wasn's so bad. The wall opens up, and the HUGE balcony becomes part of the living room. Brenda was a little ticked off at the compulsory "club surcharge" of 30 Euro a week per person. As far as I can see, we don't get much for the "club membership", but heck, maybe it pays for the shuttle bus which goes from this place in the sticks to the local train station. A tiny little kichenette serves our needs just fine. Now if only I can figure out how to open a can with these European can openers!
I sound like I am complaining, but since that is the extent of the "complaints" so far, so I guess I am doing all right! And I see another person is now waiting for this one and only internet point, so I must sign off, and plan today's adventure.
Regards from Roma

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Roman Malta

Of course, Romans were in control of Malta for centuries. St. Paul himself was shipwrecked here, and cured the Roman governor's dad. The house they probably lived in was excavated over the course of the last century or so, and only just this year has opened to the general public. Its up on the mountain, just outside the gates of M'dina, right at the edge of Rabat. Absolutely stunning! Fantastic mosaic floors, and wonderful artifacts. Interestingly enough, there were many Islamic graves in this area, because for a large segment of its history, Malta was Islamic. To be honest, for some reason, this particular period escaped my notice until now, though considering that both M'dina and Rabat are words rooted in Arabic, perhaps I should have paid more attention to the time lines. I had thought that Islam never rooted in Malta, but clearly I was wrong.

And of course, a trip to the Silent City would not be complete without a visit to St. Paul's Grotto. A few moments prayer and a wonderful echo make this the ideal pulpit, albeit an underground one! I decided to skip the Wigancourt Museum and St. Paul's Catacombs in favor of a pleasant half hour in the square of Rabat eating nougat (orange and chocolate, in this case! yum!) and drinking double expresso.

Very pleasant up here in M'Dina, but of course, everything closes between noon and three in the afternoon. Disconcerting at first, but actually a very civilized custom. You wander the streets seeking a shop to hide from the sun and discover them all to be closed, only to find that perfect place to be open a few hours later!

So today, I joined up with Mr. S. to get my picture taken. I wore the gorgeous shirt that Brenda had made for me. And I examined the armours yet again, and decided that my armour is rubbish...the next one will be PERFECT! I do hope that they like it. Mr. S. tells me he wants to use it for the Maltese children to try on instead of putting them into the real antiques. Perfect. Exactly what I made it for! To be touched and handled.

Then a visit through the great Archaeology Museum. The permanent exhibit is on the prehistoric temples found throughout these islands, and got to see the famous "Venus of Malta". All fat women may now rejoice in the title of goddess, but I notice nothing for the fat MEN except some most interesting and strangely depressing massif phalluses being used as pillars around the temples. But of course, the permanent exhibit is NOT what we came to see. We trekked up two flights of stairs to see the exhibit from China...a nice collection of the great terra cotta warriers who guarded the tomb of Emperor Qin. (pronounced "chin", he was the fellow who gave "China" her name, and of course was a major player in the recent movie "Hero") There was more than just terra cotta warriors of course, there were bronze figures, and terra cotta horses with bronze bridles. I was in awe of the talent of the sculptors!
A bronze war chariot would have been difficult to make even today! The horses were all lively, and look like they could come alive at any moment! No pictures of the exhibit, sorry!

Well, the sun is going down on another fine day, and I am just beat! I expect that a couple of lagers will go down nice and smooth!

Regards from Malta.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Beautiful Malta

I have yet again fallen in love with this country! The bone shaking busses, the crumbling sandstone are only minor things compared to the modern museums, the joy of sidewalk cafes, and the tasty octopus stew I had for dinner. Since I have been here, I have been diving in Anchor Bay. (if you have seen the movie "Popeye" you have seen anchor bay. The movie set was made into a theme park. The water is clear, clean, and VERY salty. To my distress, I had a panic attack at depth....very unusual, and certainly unexpected. My guide was NOT impressed with salvaging 18 kilograms of lead off the bottom! I'll have to get a hold of this problem if I expect to continue in this sport.
Watched the noon gun go off at the Upper Barraka Gardens. They have brought up another 6 cannons, and I can see mounts for as many as 11! Very Very cool. Day before yesterday, I watched the salute from right there at the guns, and today I watched them from Conspicua, a town about 3 and a half seconds away as the sound waves travel. I dragged Brenda through the intense sun to Fort St. Angelo only to find it closed, and then to Fort Rinella, which of course was most definitely open! Bill A. and his gf, and Brenda and I watched the whole re-enactment. Very impressive. Initially it seems a bit pricey at 5 Maltese lira per person....but all in all, worth it.
Well, I see I have only three minutes left on this card, so until next time,


Saturday, May 19, 2007

oops...its Malta

And here I thought the tickets were to Rome. Ah well. Next week.
Here I lugged this armour halfway around the world only to find the armoury is closed. Seems the roads were all being torn up, and nobody could get in the door, so they downed tools and hung a shingle on the door saying "closed until further notice!". Crikey! Well, instead of hanging around Valetta and its noisy road work, we wandered back out to the bus scrum and took the number four out to Fort Rinella. (google Fort Rinella,Malta, you'll be glad you did!) While Brenda drove off to meet our friends at the airport, I made an excellent afternoon with M. F. chatting about everything under the sun. About time I had such a break...the first one in years. I treated myself to a Cisk (thats a beer) and a kinney (thats a soft drink). I got the impression that M.F. needed a bit of a break as well...the frustrations of managing several museums has clearly taken a toll on his patience. We discussed the possibility of creating a hands-on working armoury, and it surely won't be THIS year, nor likely even THIS decade! (and I see that there is already an excellent armourer here in Mosta, creating armours for a display troupe. All I can say is "good on ya!" I am not much worried about competition because of course, there is never enough metal clothing to go around! And this guy is really good. I really must try to make time to visit him this week!

So Jennifer, you wanted to know about my uncle Bill. Well, he was born in the dirty thirties in Saskatchewan, and followed his brother Nick into the Calgary Highlanders. I really don't know much about him, or what they did for a year in England....Nick never talked about it....but like all the Canadians, they landed on Juno beach in June of 1944. The Canadians had it a little easier than the boys in the movie "Saving Private Ryan", or "Band of Brothers" because they managed to take out some of the machine guns, but it was bad enough. They fought North, bypassing Paris (Patton wanted to go into Paris, and heck, let him!), charged overland and took Antwerp. They eventually ended up at the French Belgium border in a place known as the "Breskens Pocket" . The Scheldt river forms an estuary at that point about 2 miles wide that ships have to travel to reach Antwerp. The geography is such that if you take Antwerp, you can invade Germany, but if you don't take Antwerp, the supply train becomes impossibly long. This means clearing the Germans out of both the south and north sides of the beautiful Scheldt Estuary. The south side is called the Breskens Pocket, and the north side is called Walchern Island. Clearing the Breskens pocket was bad enough, but then they had to cross the Albert Canal to bypass Antwerp and right hook around to clear the north shore and all of Walchern Island.
The battle of the Scheldt is known as the great unknown battle, understandable considering that the British were going A Bridge Too Far, and the Americans were dealing with the Battle of the Bulge. They got all the press. The Canadians were simply rolling up fortress Europe. One flooded, dike surrounded field at a time. The first step was to take the Albert Canal. 200 meters wide, and a formidable barrier. You would have thought it was a movie! 12 men went across in the middle of the night with their rifles slung over a broken canal lock gate, and made a bridehead by taking out a couple of machine gun posts. D company was in reserve, while A, B and C companies expanded the bridge head. The Germans made a determined counter attack, (they are famous for that!) and pushed the Canadians back to the lock, and nearly into the Canal, when they were rallied by some very determined Canadian officers. Canadians were nearly routed except for D company which covered their retreat, saving many men from annialation, and stiffened their resistance to the counter attack. By morning it was over, Canadians had formed a solid bridge across the Albert Canal, and my uncle had been killed as he covered the withdrawal.
There is more, much more, but that is the essential juice of my Uncle Bill's part in it. He was buried in Belgium, and then a few months later, was dis-interred and re-buried in Bergen Op Zoom Canadian War Cemetary with a dozen of his mates who died the same day.
The lock is still there, though of course, the gates have all been repaired and the lock masters know nothing about how important their little workspace is in the great attack into Holland. I have some copies of the battle, the war diaries in fact, and plan to post scanns of them on these pages in future weeks. For now, I am away from home and away from my picture base, so I must make a thousand words do where a picture would have sufficed!
Tomorrow, I shall attemp to see what is up on the Saluting Battery below the Barakka Gardens in Valetta. (google time again, grin!)

Friday, May 18, 2007


European Keyboard. grr. Mispellings are the fault of people who dont know what a qerty keyboard looks like.
Long flight; but not as miserable as it has been in the past. I actually slept through most of it. But, I DID manage to get done a lot of things on my list. Vistited my uncle Bill s grave in Holland, and the spot on the Albert Canal where he died. The story is pretty fascinating...turns out my uncle was a hero. When I get back I ll share it with you all.
Then the tour to Passendale. First gas attack, thousands of Canadians died. thirty five for every square meter in that miserable valley. Got to listen to the sunset ceremony at the Menin Gate. Quite has been going every day at sunset since 1938.
Discovered I like Amstel Beer; Yper beer; and Genever. Good stuff:::no hangovers.

Well off to Rome; I ll see if I can download some pictures there.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Measuring the drawings 2005

Back in 2005, I measured the drawings for the armour below. The armour is not bright and shiny...sorry! As you can see, it has been preserved with axel grease which is pretty solid and soapy by now. From the above measurements, I went on to build the breastplate below, as well as a pretty backplate to go with it.

The armour is just big enough for a 14 year old. It is hard to imagine that at one time, it fit a fighting man.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Malta Breast Plate

The Armour I plan to give to people of Malta is finally done! And not a moment too soon! It is a partial breast and back plate...I never DID get the belly plates and faulds done. But hey, can't have everything! Here is the link to the beginning of this job!

You have to scroll down a bit...This first picture shows the side bars in the fully out position.

And here they are in the mostly collapsed position. There is a sliding rivet behind, where you can't see it, just like in the original. You also get a really good closeup of the fancy file work along the edge. Not all of the Knights (of St. John) had armour this fancy...often the edges did not have the file work.

Many people have wondered, even in scholarly books, how the shoulder pieces actually stay out. It makes sense that when you bend your arm to strike a blow, the side piece will sink in on its sliding what brings it back out again? Some have speculated that it was the way the straps were mounted, but we have found that often the straps are mounted on the inside, big breastplate. There is a hole there to indicate that that was done once. Well, having made one, I finally found the answer....there is a spring action at the bottom pivot rivet that keeps it sprung out.

Three quarter views of this armour. This one is the same as the last one, but brightened up a bit.

Full front view...the "spring action" is obvious when you see it in full front. The main breast plate acts as a spring to hold the side pieces in place. You can push them down, but it causes a little bit of flex in the breastplate, resulting in the armour pulling back out into place when the sword blow is done.

You will note that even with the side plates, the armour is still pretty restrictive. You cannot move both arms forward at the same time!

A nice side view showing the file work at the bottom pivot rivet.

And my very pretty roped top edge. Note that it is a full half an inch in the centre, but only a quarter inch at the edges.

I had to drill out all the rivets to do the fancy file work on the edges, but all in all, I think it was worth it. The end result looks great when paired up with the backplate. Those that have an interest about how ALL this armour was made are welcome to peruse my archives...I documented the whole thing!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

May Duc du Berry

(click on the picture to enlarge)

C'est le mai, c'est le mai, c'est le joli mois de mai!"
("It's May, it's May, the beautiful month of May!")
As the song of old went, so the figures of this merry pageant seem to be saying to one another.On the first of May, following a tradition derived hom the floralia of antiquity, young men used to make a light-hearted jaunt through the country and bring back branches. On that day one had to wear green at the risk of being ridiculed. This is the origin of the expression "Je vous prends sans vert" ("I've caught you napping").
In his youth the Duc de Berry liked to take part in this festivity, and at court the King would distribute garments made of cloth vert gai in color and known as livrée de mai.This garb is worn by the three girls riding horses caparisoned in a refined soft green, a color obtained from the crushed crystalline stone, malachite. The sumptuous dress lined with blue and ornamented with gold flowerwork identifies the girls as princesses. One, wearing a white headdress decorated with green leaves, dominates the middle of the scene.Turning to contemplate her is a rider dressed half in red, half in black and white, the royal livery of France at that time; he is probably a prince of the blood. At the girl's left rides a man dressed in a rich blue brocaded coat strewn with golden flowers: could it be the Duc de Berry?
In front, musicians lead the gay group of amiable riders to the sound of their trumpet, flute, and trombone. They are accompanied by the Duke's small dogs which frisk about the horse's hoofs.
Roofs, towers, and the tops of tall buildings appear behind the wooded background. The architecture at time has been identified as the Château de Riom, capital of Auvergne and part of the Duke's appanage; however, it bears little resemblance to old representations of this château. On the contrary, it is undoubtedly similar to the Palais de la Cité in Paris (included in the month of June). Such precise details as the gables, chimneys, battlements, and weathervanes obviously form the roofs of the Palais.On the left, the square tower with a bartizan would be the Châtelet on the right bank of the Seine. Then, after a gap and behind the turret of a corner building, are the top of a corner tower, the two towers of the Conciergerie, and the Tour de L'Horloge, all four of which still exist on the Ile de la Cité.Farther on stand the twin towers of the Grand Salle of the Parlement, and at the extreme right the Tour Montgomery, seen from the rear. Therefore this pretty scene must have been set in the woods bordering the rue du Pré-aux-Clercs, near what is now the rue de Bellechasse.

Poppy Coins and Espionage


An odd-looking Canadian coin with a bright red flower was the culprit behind the U.S. Defense Department's false espionage warning earlier this year, The Associated Press has learned. The odd-looking — but harmless — "poppy coin" was so unfamiliar to suspicious U.S. Army contractors traveling in Canada that they filed confidential espionage accounts about them. The worried contractors described the coins as "anomalous" and "filled with something man-made that looked like nano-technology," according to once-classified U.S. government reports and e-mails obtained by the AP.

(or google "poppy quarter" for a dozen more reports")


Anyway, the poppy quarter was issued in 2004, and in an unusual move, was only distributed Canada wide as change for the Tim Horton's Coffee franchise. It commemorates the sacrifices of fallen soldiers, and came out late in the year in '04. Read the real story of the Poppy Quarter here....
nano technolgy....sheesh!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Proto internet. 1895

Shamelessly lifted from
Please visit them.

The Telephone Herald of Budapest — Has 6,000 Subscribers — In Operation Two Years — News Carefully Edited — Between Editions Concerts Are Given

The telephone newspaper organized at Budapest has now been working successfully for two years. It is the only newspaper of the kind in the world. It is called The Telephono Hirnondo, or Herald, costs 2 cents like a printed paper and is valuable to persons who are unable or too lazy to use their eyes or who cannot read. It has 6,000 subscribers, who receive the news as they would ordinary telephone messages. A special wire 168 miles long runs along the windows of the houses of subscribers, which are connected with the main line by separate wires and special apparatus which prevents the blocking of the system by an accident at any one of the stations.Within the houses long, flexible wires make it possible to carry the receiver to the bed or elsewhere in the room. The news is not delivered as it happens to come in, but is carefully edited and arranged according to a printed schedule, so that a subscriber at any time knows what part of the paper he is going to hear. It begins with the night telegrams from all parts of Europe. Then comes the calendar of events for the day, with the city news and the lists of strangers at the hotels. After that follow articles on music, art and literature. The staff is organized like that of any other newspaper and is on duty from 7:30 in the morning till 9:30 at night.After the copy has passed through the editor's hands, for the paper is subject to the same restrictions as ordinary newspapers and is liable for its communications, it is given to the "speakers." These are ten men with strong voices and clear enunciation, who work in shifts of two at a time and talk the news through the telephone. There are 23 editions uttered a day. Additions to the first edition are announced as news items. To fill up the time when no news is coming in the subscribers are entertained with vocal and instrumental concerts.These were at first given for them especially in the office of The Hirnondo, but now the wire is in communication with the opera house and the music halls and on Sundays and saints' days with the churches. The music is transmitted at times to other places in Austria-Hungary, and recently The Hirnondo michrophone was connected with the circuit going from Triest, through Vienna, Bremen and Budapest, to Berlin, the music being heard in all these places with equal clearness and force. The happy Hungarian can lie abed all day and hear everything that is going on in his town.Such a newspaper as the one described was foreshadowed by a writer in the British and Colonial Printer and Stationer in December, 1893. In the article, which was entitled "A Fairy Tale For Printers," an attempt was made to forecast the future of the daily newspaper, and The Telephono Hirnondo closely resembles the writer's ideal. —

Davenport Daily Republican, Davenport, IA, Oct. 5, 1895, p. 3.

Friday, May 04, 2007


In Japan, they are considering replacing the impersonal and unhelpful Microsoft Error messages with Haiku poetry messages.Haiku poetry has strict construction rules.Each poem has only three lines, 17 syllables: five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, five in the third.Haiku is used to communicate a timeless message often achieving a wistful, yearning and powerful insight through extreme brevity -- the essence of Zen:

Serious error.
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind. Both are blank.

Your file was so big.
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.

The Website you seek
Cannot be located,
butCountless more exist.

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.

Program aborting:
Close all that you have worked on.
You ask far too much.

Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.

Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.

First snow, then silence.
This thousand-dollar screen dies
So beautifully.

With searching comes loss
And the presence of absence:
"My Novel" not found.

The Tao that is seen
Is not the true Tao-until
You bring fresh toner.

Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down.

A crash reduces
Your expensive computer
To a simple stone.

Three things are certain:
Death, taxes and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.

You step in the stream,
But the water has moved on.
This page is not here.

Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will.

Having been erased,
The document you're seeking
Must now be retyped.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


I picked this off of a trade magazine I subscribe to, and wanted to share.
(This mag is turning into a really nice, albeit focused trade pub)

Hiring managers share wackiest resume blunders

Author: RP news wires
You've used all your creative juices to build a resume that stands out in the crowd – but have you gone overboard? Hiring managers and human resource professionals nationwide shared the most unusual resume blunders they came across in a recent survey:

1. Candidate included that he spent summers on his family's yacht in Grand Cayman.

2. Candidate attached a letter from her mother.

3. Candidate used pale blue paper with teddy bears around the border.

4. Candidate explained a gap in employment by saying it was because he was getting over the death of his cat for three months.

5. Candidate specified that his availability was limited because Friday, Saturday and Sunday was "drinking time."

6. Candidate included a picture of herself in a cheerleading uniform.

7. Candidate drew a picture of a car on the outside of the envelope and said it was the hiring manager's gift.

8. Candidate's hobbies included sitting on the levee at night watching alligators.

9. Candidate included the fact that her sister once won a strawberry-eating contest.

10. Candidate explained that he works well nude.

11. Candidate explained an arrest by stating, "We stole a pig, but it was a really small pig."

12. Candidate included family medical history.

"Employers do appreciate creativity in job applicants because rooting through piles of resumes often times can be a monotonous task," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at "However, the key is to balance that creativity with professionalism. You want to stand out as someone unique but also as someone with applicable experience who can add value to the company."

To help job seekers make a lasting impression for the right reasons, recently launched a free resume review feature on Job seekers can upload their resumes and immediately receive feedback on how to improve their chances of getting hired.

Haefner offers the following tips to get you started on your road to resume success:

Your personal life is just that – personal. Hiring managers don't need to know personal information such as what your waistline measurement is or where you spend your summer vacations. Instead, include information on activities that are business-related such as memberships in professional organizations and community service involvement.

Simple. Bold. Professional. Three key ideas to keep in mind when formatting your resume are: simple, bold and professional. Instead of flashy formatting and stationery with borders or graphics, create a clean and polished document on resume paper with consistent formatting for headings and bullet points. Additionally, to gain a hiring manager's attention, use strong action words such as "achieved" and "managed" instead of unconventional fonts or colored text.

One size does not fit all. If you're applying for a sales position, it wouldn't make much sense to focus on your experience in an unrelated field like education or information technology. Not only do you want to play up achievements and experience specific to each individual job to which you are applying but also be sure to provide quantifiable results. For example, it's easy to say that you have experience in sales, but employers will take note if you say that you were responsible for a 10 percent growth in overall sales.

Two sets of eyes are better than one. After you have proofread your resume a few times, ask someone else to review it. A second pair of eyes may be able to catch mistakes you missed and could provide a fresh perspective on how to improve your resume.

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of among 2,627 hiring managers and human resource professionals (employed full-time; not self employed; with at least significant involvement in hiring decisions), ages 18 and over within the United States between November 17 and December 11, 2006. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Painted animals.

I presume these are all photoshopped except of course, for the painted cats. I know the cats are real.
(actually, I kinda like the penquin!)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Risque Tee Shirts

Its tee shirt season! Invented in Italy between the wars, they were picked up as undergarments for the US Military as they made the long walk up the boot in '44. After the war, they became part of the clothing worn by the disaffected lost generation, and was made famous by James Dean, the rebel without a cause.(and others!) During the '60s, tee shirts became decorated with paints, and silk screens to an extent difficult to imagine nowadays! Of course, now it is hard to find a tee shirt which is not decorated in some way these days.

I bet you do honey. But then, how would you ever enjoy the line dances, hog roasts and tail gate parties?

I like to do what I am told.
So I did.
Well now that THAT is out of the way....
But I still need a map....