Friday, June 29, 2007

Algonquin College Chiv Course

Gotta love her pink katana over there on the left! Don't kid yourself, it hits just as hard as a "normal colour" katana! Wonder why the gap in the middle....and Shayne, you just look mean. Back still hurting I bet! And as usual, the armour made it difficult to kneel down. But hey...I WAS at least wearing it!

Jean trusting to the "force" and considerable skill to make up for the lack of armour. It seems to work...pain is an amazing teacher!

I must be slow for him to dodge this one. Unless I had already backhanded him, and was coming back for the coup d'grace. Naaah...I think I was just slow...

I have got to stop laughing that manaical laugh when I fight! Armour looks good though.

Greg outfitted in his dad's armour. Hope he will drop in on Saturday to finish his cuirass.

This is a good pic, from the swordman's perspective. The sword had just slanted downwards from the left to the right, and the swordsman is crouching to recover from the miss.

Greg taking on a hot fighter. I'm keeping my guard up, even though I am the referee!

Always nice to see the sensei's going at it. Their fighting styles have both calmed down in the last few years, more solid, more definite. Good to watch.

Don't do it! Its a trap!

And so ends the spring session of the Algonquin College Chivalrous Handling Course. Started with twenty one, and finished with, what....eight! Oh my! Do you think it was my breath?

Actually, the retention rate is pretty much in line with most martial arts and fitness clubs, so I am not as worried about it as I might have been a few years ago. Several people contacted me to tell me that life just got in the way, and they felt that they were missing out by not being there, and they are all hoping to repeat the experience in the fall. Well, can't ask more than that!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Plant Baths Basic Chiv Course

Bill still light on his feet!
The tough ones, the ones who stuck it out! Way to go!

Catherine and Lorne going at it like Energizer Bunnies.

Shane was hurting that day from a pulled back muscle. Doesn't seem to have slowed him down any.

I think we are both pretty light on our feet!

I love this pic! Looks like the march of the tin soldiers!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Eyes Have It

The reflection in your bleeding eye
Makes me want to do or die...

Fiery eyes
The window on a soul of iron and steel.
Now isn't that cute!
I thought by now you would realize

You can't hide your lying eyes!

Tired eyes
I can see it in your eyes that you are hatching a cunning plan!

I see no evil when I close my eyes...
And smoke gets in your eyes
------The Platters
the eyes of an eagle.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

De-motivational Posters

click on the image to enlarge if you have the energy

Well, today is a lazy ass day. Not too much going on. Stinking hot already, and all the classes are finished. As soon as I process the pictures, I'll put their pictures up on this blog. I am very impressed at the quality of the students. Last night was "sparring night" and they had no trouble smacking ME all over the fighing ring! Brenda took some pictures, just have to download and process them. Maybe later on today....
Today is border crossing day....a quick trip across the US-Canada border to import some swords, and maybe helping a friend haul some camping gear out of her attic.
So Henri, did you like the pics of the iron work below?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Yper ironwork

click on these lovely images to enlarge.

Well, what can I say...I LOVE IRONWORK.
These are all from the cathedral church in Yper.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Menin Gate

(click on pictures to enlarge. Please play this while reading this post.

The Menin Gate was extensively re-built after the First World War, along with the rest of the town of Ypres. The great arch was the scene of thousands of marching troops, who marched off to oblivion in the Ypes Salient, St. Julien, and Passchendale. Due to the nature of that particular madness, many of those men went missing. That is to say, they were killed, buried in shallow graves in "no man's land" and often subsequent artillery disturbed those graves. Thousands upon thousands of men had no memorial to their passing.
When the British, and Belgians re-built Ypres, they also re-built the Menin Gate as a sort of combination Triumphal Arch and Mausoleum. It is a gate way in the old walls of the city, and there are stairways in the middle of the walls which lead to the top of the walls. The intention was to record the names of all the soldiers who had no known grave. They discovered that even at two inches per name, there was way not enough space on the walls. The above picture shows part of the wreath laying ceremony which occurs every night at eight o'clock, rain or shine, 24-7.

Wreaths of poppies are laid here, every day, often without any ceremony. This is a view of the stairway which leads up to the top of the wall, these stairways are on both sides inside the great Menin Gate arch, and lead to the top of the walls. You will note that the names continue up the sides of the stairwells.

People visit here often, and find their grandfather's names, and often place a poppy beside the name.
The last post is played every night here, and has become a tourist attraction in its own right. Hitler refused to damage this monument in any way, though he was famous for tearing down battlefield monuments. He had too much respect for the common soldier to damage a monument to him. Similarly, he left the monument at Vimy Ridge severely alone.
According to the Wikipedia, quote "Except for the occupation by the Germans in World War II when the daily ceremony was conducted at Brookwood Military Cemetery, in Surrey, England, this ceremony has been carried on uninterrupted since, 2 July 1928. On the very evening that Polish forces liberated Ypres in the Second War, the ceremony was resumed at the Menin Gate despite the fact that heavy fighting was still taking place in other parts of the town."
I heard a different story, but I'll leave that for now pending further research.

The stair wells, lined with names and flooded with tears from Belgian, French, British, Canadian, Indian, Australian, and South African soldiers.
Newfoundland and New Zealand soldiers have their own memorials. Lord Plumer of Messines, at the unveiling of the Menin Gate, 1927 said. . .
"One of the most tragic features of the Great War was the number of casualties reported as 'missing, believed killed'.
To their relatives there must have been added to their grief a tinge of bitterness and a feeling that everything possible had not been done to recover their loved ones' bodies and give them reverent burial ... when peace came, and the last ray of hope had been extinguished, the void seemed deeper and the outlook more forlorn.
For those who had no grave to visit, no place where they could lay tokens of loving remembrance ... and it was resolved that here at Ypres, where so many of the missing are known to have fallen, there should be erected a memorial worthy of them which should give expression to the nation's gratitude for their sacrifice and their sympathy with those who mourned them. A memorial has been erected which, in its simple grandeur, fulfils this object, and now it can be said of each one in whose honour we are assembled"

Blomfield's memorial combines the architectural images of a classical victory arch and a mausoleum and it contains, inside and out, huge panels into which are carved the names of the 54,896 officers and men of the commonwealth forces who died in the Ypres Salient area and who have no known graves. This figure, however, does not represent all of the missing from this area. It was found that the Menin Gate, immense though it is, was not large enough to hold the names of all the missing.
The names recorded on the gate's panels are those of men who died in the area between the outbreak of the war in 1914 and 15th August, 1917. The names of a further 34,984 of the missing - those who died between 16th August, 1917 and the end of the war, are recorded on carved panels at Tyne Cot Cemetery, on the slopes just below Passchendaele.

"What are you guarding, Man-at-Arms?
Why do you watch and wait?"
"I guard the graves," said the Man-at-Arms,
"I guard the graves by Flanders Farms,
Where the dead will rise at my call to arms,
And march to the Menin Gate."

Friday, June 22, 2007

Brussels Coffee

Coffee in Europe for some reason always seemed to be better than North American Coffee, and I asked a barista "why?" . The answer is that normally European coffee is grown in Africa from Arabic beans, and coffee which is generally served up in N. America is generally from South America.

Same beans right? Well, no. Seems that, like banannas, wine grapes and apples, coffee plants are mostly propogated by shoots and grafting techniques, and that in reality there are only a couple of dozen different coffee plants in the world. Similarly, there are only a couple dozen different apple trees in the world. And apparently only two or three edible bananna plants, infinitely re-produced by grafting onto local rootstock. But, I digress.

So few coffee plants, and each have a very distinct aroma and flavor. African coffee is strong, roasts well and predictably, and has a characteristic that it masks most chemicals found in N. A. tap water. Columbian coffee on the other hand, seems to enhance the flavor of tap water the way salt enhances the flavor of a tomato, so you actually have to have VERY good water to have good South American coffee. I found that I could only drink most coffee in Canada if I made it with distilled water.

So, European coffee is not so much better as that it masks the chemicals!

Speaking of is clearly much on my mind, so I think I'll go get one.


Thursday, June 21, 2007


The train station. From the trains side. Really! click on the picture, see the detail, even to the cut glass in the top arch! If anybody visits there, it is helpful to remember that the washrooms are just off to the right...I think that fellow in the pic is running to get to it. Female washroom attendants. That took a little getting used to. Its no time to discover that you have a shy bladder....grin!
Closeup. Click on the images to enlarge.
The train station, from the inside, looking at the arch to get to the trains. Its like a triumphal arch!
Wooden elephants. Don't know why they were there, but they were VERY cool, so I posed with one. I like them!
And downtown Antwerp. A random street corner. There was just so much fancy architecture that I could not take it all in! This city is full of gorgeous buildings, stunning diamonds everywhere (a city full of jewelers! Wow!), and people everywhere speaking Flemish. Nice language, not as gutteral as German, nor is it as musical as the Brussels French. Didn't understand a single word, but the friendliness of the people made up for it. People have told me that Antwerp is a very cold city. Maybe a little bit...people were a little more stand off-ish than in Brussels, but all in all, they were proud of their city and their heritage.
Yeah, I'll be back. I understand Antwerp nightlife is really hot.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Nine Dangerous Words Women Use

Nine Dangerous Words Women Use


This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.

Five Minutes.

If she is getting dressed, this means a half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.


This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin in Nothing usually end in Fine.

Go Ahead.

This is a dare, not permission. Don't do it!!

Loud Sigh.

This is not quite a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about Nothing. (Refer back to #3 for the meaning of Nothing.)

That's Okay.

This is one of the most dangerous statements a woman can make to a man. That's Okay means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.


Don't read anything into this. Do not question it. Do not faint. Just say, "You're welcome." Sometimes that works.


V., meaning screw you!Don't Worry About It;
I Got It.
This is something a woman has told a man to do several times but is now doing it herself. This will later result in a man asking "What's wrong?" For the woman's response, refer to #3.

(and no, I don't "get" whats going on in the picture either.....)
Brussels 6th century walls. Just a remnant, found when they tore down an old warehouse which had used this wall as part of its structure. Part of the inner city walls, which enclosed the high rent district. South of these walls is the "warehouse" district which presumably they would lose first. Makes sense...if for some reason your enemy was to attack by sea! I have my own suspicions about the arrangements of walls and defences...involving class structure and possible city rebellion against said class structure.
Another good example. As you can see, the archer's slit is perfectly place to defend the town against the de-classe bowlers.
Metalwork in the Groetplace. This door dates so far back they don't even know themselves how old it is. Love the hinges...I can stare at this picture for an hour and not see all there is to see of this door.
This is the black tower....or is it "hot tower". The "haute port" used to be the south entrance of the city of Brussels, and once upon a time it contained a collection of armour. Unfortuneately, the guidebook I used was way out of date...they moved the armour collection to another museum sometime in the late sixties!
Random architecture on the street. This street is sort of a "main street", in that it went due north from the haute porte to the inner city walls. This was the old warehouse district, or rather, business district, with houses and shops designed for the working people. The "working people" seemed to live pretty well though!