My weatherpixie's offline

My cute weatherpixie has gone offline. You may have noticed the big black gap in the side bar. The site has been offline for a couple of days now. I've had a glance 'round and other bloggers using it are experiencing the very same problem. I'll give it a few more days to see if it'll be up and running again.
They did add new types of clothing since my last post on this, but I don't think most of them can be considered an improvement.
But if that's what the kids are wearing it probably is considered cool...
Although I'm not too sure if I look at this page. Or if I have a look at the most repulsive combinations the Teens™ are wearing. Sometimes I'd rather do an Oedipus and gouge my eyes out than stare at the unappealing dress sense.

Meh. I must be getting old.


Renovated Wing at the KMKG

Thought I would just post this picture of the newly renovated Art from the Islamic World wing of the Royal Museum of Art and History in Brussels. It was taken with the camera in my phone, so not of the best quality. A small but impressive selection of some 300 artefacts (tip of the iceberg, the KMKG has an important collection, a lot from bequests) are displayed. The interior decoration gets its inspiration from islamic architecture. In front of the fourteen windows that border on the Jubelpark there is a big mashrabiyya. It is used in the East to prevent the warmth and the sun from entering the buildings but still provide some ventilation. The textile exhibits are entombed in sumptuous sarcophagi-esque display cases. One minor point here, some of them are so high (waist high), some disabled visitors will not be able to see. One of the top pieces is the earliest know piece of velvet with çintamani-pattern in the world.
The permanent exhibits are grouped per big period, there are some interactive screens with clear information for each section on architecture and period history. Flash presentation can be found here. At the end of the room there is a reconstruction of the front of a mosque with some original elements of beautiful wood carvings. There is an audio guide available. I'll be back there some time next week, I hope to bring my camera and make some more snaps. Right. I'll get on with my studying, have an exam on Art of the Islamic World on Monday.


The sense of the word

Mouser is sleepin' with the fishes tonight...

Still better that waking up with the severed head of your favourite horse betwixt the sheets.


Mouser's czech present

While in Prague, Dr Livingstone was out hunting for some gifts for the home front. Last time he was there, he bought me a beautiful necklace with matching earrings. It is the only piece of jewellery I have and occasionally wear. Except for the earrings. I never wear those. And this for a very simple reason. Two actually.
1) They're for pierced earlobes. I don't have pierced earlobes because of reason #2
2) I don't have any earlobes.
So that went down very well. We always joke about that to people saying the Dr was confusing me with all of his other girlfriends.
Middleteen™ is now the proud owner of a pair of earrings matching my necklace.

So this time round to try and forget about the earring debacle, he went for a new gift hunting stroll around town. And he found Mouser a present! How sweat is that! A weazel ball™. From the Weasel Ball site:

"At Weaselballs.com, we have a pretty niche business. We sell weasel balls, and that's all. We don't sell underwear, lawncare supplies or automatic weapons... anymore -- just a weasel and a ball, inextricably linked, forever and ever. The seasons will pass -- years may fly by, yet the weasel and ball relationship remains consistent. The weasel desires the ball, yet the ball is indifferent, maybe even a little bit distant. It flees. The weasel pursues. It is comedy and tragedy all rolled into one."

"Cat Torture
Cats love the Weasel Ball. And by love, we mean hate. Most cats hate the Weasel Ball and want to attack, scratch, bite and kill it. Some cats are just deathly afraid of it. It's fun. If you let your cat have a little too much me-time with the weasel ball, it may get ruined. No worries though, because then you can just order another one. Or seven. Ruin all the weasels you want, we'll make more! And by "make" we mean "order from China."

I will put Mouser in the 'some cats' instead of 'most cats' category. Poor kitty is scared out of its wits. And I mean scared as in horrified. As scared as that little squirrel we had in the garden a few weeks ago.
Dr Livingstone put a battery in it and the thing started to roll around. The little motor inside makes a very dull, grinding noise. I saw Mouser look up to me as if to ask 'WHAT in the name of ceiling cat is THAT?'

Next thing you know, velvet claws darts off into the garden with its fur all bunched up and a tail you could use as a duster.

So next time I'm leaving in a hurry and I need to put Mouser outside, I know what I'll be using to get it extramuralized.

Darling Democrat - 16mm

Quick plug for a very promising Canadian band 16mm. Their first video is up on 604 Records' youtube channel.


What miserable weather. I thought I'd post a miserable looking picture of a couple of Sturnus vulgaris sitting on some electrical wires in front of the house.


Nursery Times

A nest of Cyanistes caeruleus, or commonly known as Blue Tits, have taken up residence in the rafters of the pear refrigerator bordering on our garden.
I had heard all the twittering, but it sounded so fragile and I couldn't quite figure out where it was coming from. So I decided on a stakeout with my camera. Within minutes there was a little, jumpy bird looking at me, giving me that foul look and a little caterpillar firmly locked in its beak. Before it fluttered off, I managed to catch it on camera, I wanted to get a snap of it while entering the little hole next to the rafter, but even at a very fast shutter speed it still looks like a colourful blur.
Funny how every picture I take of the species, it always has those blue feathers standing up. It reminds me of the way Captain Haddock looks when he's all dressed up and his hair is parted all comely.

UPDATE: I've added this little picture I took just a few minutes ago. Finally cought the flying feeder on camera!

Offensive phrasing

Around 1.5% of the pages on your website contain cussing.
This is 83% LESS than other websites who took this test.

Good for me. So I thought: How very non-interesting, Let's slap it on the old blog. Yes, that's right, I'm deliberately wasting your time. So if you're reading this at work: get on with it! If you'd be my employee and I'd see you wasting time on the internet doing non job related things, you'd be out of the door before you could say disestablishmentarianism. For those of you reading from the comfort of your home or during downtime: Browse away my friends, this blog is nearly cuss-free. Only 1.5% of my pages contain offensive words...


Hello Lunch!

The shade shifting spider is having a little picnic in the back yard inside the flower of a Rhododendron ponticum. I went back yesterday to see if it was still there. I disturbed it while it had just gotten hold of a nice juicy fly. Very interesting to see it has those two tiny pincers in front, its venomous glands firmly dug into the soft spot between the flies' faceted eyes and exo-skeleton. All of its eyes on the lookout for any predators.
If I made a sudden move, it moved too, pray and all.

Food Porn

To enter the Mandarine Napoléon website,
you must be of legal drinking age
in your country of residence.

Why? Is this considered food porn? Can I get drunk just by looking at the pictures? If you don't agree, you get a nice empty google search page, if you agree, you get to see the index page. . This is just too silly for words. There are probably some binding laws the company needs to abide by. But having this sort of 'disclaimer' is, in my opinion, just a tad silly. But not nearly as silly as covering up ancient mummies. But close.


Colour changing spider

I have on of the coolest spiders in my garden. Misumena vatia, or Flower Spider as it is commonly known. It does not make a web but pounces on pollinating insects visiting flowers. It strikes by injecting venom.
But that is not the coolest bit about them.
It is able to change colour to match the flower it is sitting upon! How's that for extremely impressive?

From Wiki:
"The color change is made possible by secreting a liquid yellow pigment into the outer cell layer of the body. On a white base, this pigment is transported into lower layers, so that inner glands, filled with white guanine, become visible. If the spider dwells longer on a white plant, the yellow pigment is often excreted. It will then take the spider much longer to change to yellow, because it will have to produce the yellow pigment first. The color change is induced by visual feedback; spiders with painted eyes were found to have lost this ability.
The color change from white to yellow takes between 10 to 25 days, the reverse about six days."

Okay, it can only change from yellow to white and vice versa. But that still is pretty mind-blowing. How about those little 8 legged chemical factories, ladies and gentlemen.

The Mummy's Return

(This is a follow up post to Mum's the word on the naked truth)

I've just given this mummy business a bit more thought.
What if, just suppose, this was just a huge misunderstanding? What if sarcasm was the modus ponens here? I could see following conversation have taken place on a Monday morning around the coffee machine.

Museum staff #1 (been pondering this all weekend, reluctant to discuss the matter with colleagues): "What are we going to do about the mummy exhibition? We've had over a hundred complaints about inappropriate nakedness"

Museum staff #2 (not a morning person):"Well, why don't we just cover them up and be done with it?"

Well, it could have happened, couldn't it? Someone not spotting the subtle mock, taking it quite literally and just after the shit hit the proverbial fan, being ridiculed by the entire international historical community, falling back on the 'We are trying to follow Government guidelines about how they should be displayed with respect and sensitivity."

I just thought they were being displayed for educational purposes. Silly me.

Let's hope I can still go and take a look at those paintings of full fronted naked Jesuses, beautiful bare breasted and buttocked Venuses, cavorting Pans at the National Gallery when I'm in London again.
If I get a chance to squeeze past all those drooling, old, complaining farts that is.


Mum's the word on the naked truth

"The last time they had the chance to offend anyone was 2,700 years ago when they were wandering around ancient Egypt.
Since then the mummies have led a blameless existence, spending the last 120 years in a museum where countless thousands of visitors have managed to see them without anyone becoming in the least bit upset.
Not any longer, it appears."
The Daily Mail has the full story.

Josh Lennon, a museum visitor, said: "This is preposterous. Surely people realise that if they go to see Egyptian remains some of them may not be dressed in their best bib and tucker.
"The museum response to complaints is pure Monty Python - they have now covered them from head to foot rendering the exhibition a non-exhibition. It is hilarious."

How utterly, utterly stupid. Well, good thing the UK has finally made it into the Victorian Age.

...Uh... wait, that's not right.

An essay on....what?

I have to write a page turning essay on the emergence and disappearance of photography.
Fine. If I just do a recap on everything we saw in class I'd be laughing all the way to the ....eh... keyboard.
But no. This course was just teeming with post modernistic drivel (and I don't mean in a Beuys way). I am contemplating doing a spoof of a post modernistic essay. Riddling it with quotes.... all by me, commenting on tidbits like I was the authority talking on the subject of the disappearance of photography. I've already dreamed up a few quotes I could use to litter across and discuss.
I really don't give a toss if he likes it. If he gets it, I'll get top marks. But I'll have to make it cunningly non obvious from the start and then gradually interweave it with PM spoof stuff.
I know that's going to take me ages, and I can only really start on it next week (last lesson hasn't been given). And I've still got 3 mayor exams and two museum visits in between.
He's given us a whopping three weeks to complete this Sisyphean task.

"My mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention."

Hedley Lamarr


A beginners guide to Facebook apps

Pretty sure I'm not the only one being bombarded to join in and take likeness quizzes, buy friends, give gifts, super poke, hug, kiss or pet someone, play vampires and werewolves,...(continues ad nauseam).
I have reached the conclusion that a few of my friends have way too much time on their hands because they have a massive array of apps installed. (Just to be VERY clear on this: all the little pictures found below are shots taken from my friends' pages).

Some of them are stomachable and are within the bounds of normalcy (they do however reside in the minority category).
E.g. 'Cities I've visited', 'Big photo'. Those have gotten the 'Mrs B approves' stamp.
Nice to share some stuff with people you don't see very often.

I only have the default ones on my account. So anyone sending me a message on my non-existent Fun Wall are talking to the virtual hand.

If you want to install some apps you need to give your email address and password so your data can be accessed by an unknown third party. There is just no way I am going to, but still, if you don't want your sensitive data accessed you can always register an account with yahoo or whatever with the explicit purpose of using it only for social networking sites. Me thinkst it the safest way not to have someone being able to cause extensive damage. But still some chance of that happening. Always a possibility to get hold of information and use it to some evil intent.
I'm surprised I haven't heard of this. But not hearing about it is not a guarantee it is not happening. It is easier to make some quick buck off a credit card scam than with an account. People hack computers all the time to reroute their illegal activities via some unsuspecting person. So someones account could help to cover your tracks if a diabolical mastermind wanted to.

Whoops, strayed a bit off topic there.

So about these applications. There are quite a few of them around. I have taken the liberty to shine my dark light on them and have categorized them for your convenience.

A) Some of them allow you to collect pointless things your friend send you (e.g. drinks, things that grow in the garden to save the rain forest, a fish tank and most bizarre of all: eggs that hatch a vast array of mammals, mermaids,…)

B) You can 'buy' your friends as a pet and then stroke them, give them gifts,...
Human pets. What do you do if you e.g. go on holiday and can't get some online time?
Tie them to a tree before you leave?

C) A pick of random woo crap:
-Daily horoscopes.
-Send Good Karma.

D) The biggest chunk of the applications are the quizzes:

1) Quizzes on specific subjects. Fun stuff, the time wasting kind. The very same flash games you can play online without having to give out your email address and password. I like the Traveler IQ Challenge.

2) The complete woo ones:
-What does your birth date mean?
-Who were you in a past life?
-What kind of eyes do you have?
-What kind of Mom will you be?
-What kind of Baby will you have?

3) Quizzes for the sexually insecure:
-What's your Sex IQ?
-What is your Karma Sutra Position?
-What's your sexual personality?
-What position are you?
-What kind of condom are you?
-Which Sex and the City character are you?
-What is your sex song?

4) If you're in some kind of identity crises or emotionally unstable you'll want to install these:
-Are you romantic?
-How good a kisser are you?
-Who's your celebrity boyfriend?
-Which foreign guy should you date?
-Will you marry your present boyfriend?
-What's your best quality?
-How classy are you?

5) There is even a quiz for the schizoid person:
-Which celebrity couple are you?

6) The totally pointless ones:
-What city should you live in?
-Which Johnny Depp character are you?
-What is your 80's song?
-What is your booze IQ?
-What weapon best suits you personally?
-How British are you? (I’m sure this is a very popular one with Scots, Welsh people and inhabitants of Northern Ireland)

7) Likeness quizzes which I find most irritating and extremely pointless.
-What fruit/animal/drug/celebrity/ rainbow colour/type of music/ cartoon character are you?
-Which dead Rock Star are you? (uh?)
-What kind of shoe are you? (who cares?)
-What god are you? (if you're a member of a monotheistic religion I suppose you won't be installing this one or you’d be pretty miffed to find out your Vishnu).

This one must be the pinnacle of them all:
-What dictator are you?

8) The questions you should be asked by/or see a doctor about:
-How big a drinker are you?
-Are you colour blind?

9) The rhetorical question, nicely answered for you anyway by the app.
-How evil are you? (this should be linked to the dictator one).
-How stupid are you? (is this based on the count of the number of apps installed?)

I've left out tons of others, but they are equally nauseating.

And finally the app not on there but needs to be (or is it?):
"What Facebook app are you?"

Come fly with me

It looks like a bee, it behaves, sounds and hovers like one. But it's not.
It goes by the name of Eristalis tenax.
That does sound like some sort of anti-inflammatory drug, but nevertheless it does do some serious pollinating.
We tend to forget that and focus on other more popular insects.

Disgusting diseases, rat tailed larvae, stagnant water.

Get away from my flowers!


Springtime (part 7)

Not one of my best pictures but I figure the lambs score a 7 out of 10 on the cuteness scale. It is just too tempting to put a caption on it.

So I'm not going to.


Anecdotally, Dr Livingstone was just across the street from the museum when the Munch pictures were stolen in 2004.

The Scream and Madonna were returned to the Munch Museum on 31st August 2006, two years and nine days after the ruthless burglary. The damaged paintings were placed in specially constructed display cases and shown to the public for five days at the end of September. Despite the short duration of the exhibition, it was viewed by 5.500 visitors. Since the exhibition, the pictures have been the subject of comprehensive investigations and a cataloguing of the extent of their damage.

Read more about the conservation efforts on the Munch Museum site


How to explain Post Modernism to Mrs B

I've always had some difficulty with post modernism. Nothing I had previously looked or thought about, or conceived to be 'art' could help me to understand/appreciate/explain/comment on post modernist works. I'm clutching at straws, jumping in the pool at the deep end. I have struggled to comprehend or feel the line where art history stops and borders on/transitions into art philosophy.
Yesterday I feel I have finally grasped the way to go ahead and see things differently (with my eyes, with my thoughts). It's about letting go of all things you've ever known or used to look at art. But I think I finally grasp the Art after Art theory.
It is difficult to view PM art. One artist wants us to look at his work and feel things, another wants us to reflect upon the products of his imagination.
Some works make us feel alienated, force us to let go of presumptions, challenge our preconceptions about art or even life. Some artists shock for the sake of shocking. Some artists don't want to make self explanatory works or explain their works, according to some explaining means missing the point of making (or defeating the purpose) of art. Some concoct theories, implement them in their work, and then make some works that do not totally abhor to their original theory. The same goes for art critics or connoisseurs.

Art has always been elitist and inaccessible to most people. I would have to make an exception for religious and ethnic art though.
Well, at least everyone will look at it with some level of understanding. But the prime feature is that it has a clear purpose. And granted, art has in some way, shape or form been masquerading as sheer propaganda (think Contra-Reformation and Baroque). But never has there been such debate on art as in the last sixty years.
First thing that opened my eyes was to view PM in a historical context. I had done so previously with the periods covering 'traditional' art up to the apparition of expressionism. Most things exhibited from later periods in musea I would glance at them sideways or walk right by.
It is so simple to do the same for PM. The time scale is much more condensed than the previous millennia. But society has also changed very dramatically in sixty years time. A work made in the seventies would not be the same in the nineties. (I have to think of the question 'why wasn't this work made 100 years earlier?').

So why the big "Eureka" moment? I've been reading up on Joseph Beuys for my Contemporary Art class. Beuys is different.
He wasn't at first to me. Not in the Art History Classes I took ten years ago. He is now. Now that I've made an effort to delve deeper into his works, void of all the commentaries of everyone who wants to voice or has voiced an opinion about him or his works.

If we look at an artist like Beuys, people today still say 'Its not art', 'He is sheer genius', 'These are the ramblings of a crazed loon',...
Are these statements the consequence of not understanding his work or trying to envelope oneself in the 'myth' of the elitist crowd hailing this as the best thing ever? Who dictates if something is art? Why is it considered art now and was it hailed as the next best thing/booed all those decades ago?

In his work, at the time, he was not the only person doing performances. Beuys was different. Very much so in his approach to art and education. After an eight hour performance he would still interact with the audience and explain what it was all about.
I must say his work is very accessible. This might seem a bold statement, but it makes more sense to me now.
If people hear the word 'art' or 'art education' I don't think the first thing they think of will be a Beuys performance. "Wie man dem toten Hase die Bilder erklärt" It does seem goofy to go around with a dead hare in your arms, your face covered in gold leaf, explaining paintings to it.
But Beuys has opened my eyes on how to look at PM art.


I think I'm a member before my couple of cups of coffee.



Ah, the joys of anonymity on the internet. You can assume any superhero identity you want. You can make your ip untraceable or log it to someones server far, far away or use pseudonyms. You can partake in (mind boggling or mind numbing) debates on different subjects with people from all over the world in a plethora of fora. You can game away into the night with your virtual identity. You can spew your poisonous sarcasm without any fear of repercussion (chiefly because some people have no sense of humour, fail to read between the lines and some cannot even comprehend random banter, wit or puns).
I could be the bored looking, bubble gum chewing teenager working at the supermarket checkout.
I could be the smiling, helpful banking assistant accessing your account data.
Hell, I could even be the bald bloke who smells of wee watching you from across the street from behind those grizzly, torn curtains.
Why am I banging on about this John Doe-aspect of it all?
I have exposed myself to 'classic' media over the past weekend and I have appeared in national newspapers with picture. The articles written appeared in the regional section of the paper so it is not in there for all to see. Casual, Sunday morning, breakfast-eating readers will not know me. Someone who really wanted to find me could already have done so, or just per chance have stumbled across the page it was buried in.
But no problems there. Journalists asked permission, I knew it was going to be in there. The regional aspect of it all meant it had a fairly small reach, lets say geographical-wise.
Nowadays all papers have online versions too. And after all has been published in print, it now is on the web for all to see.
If I now google myself (yes, it does kind of sound dirty doesn't it?), my name shows up in a couple of hits. Not only in the original articles on the site of the newspaper, but sites linking to the article (or copying the text), on topic related forums,...
It makes it easier for people to find me now. Chance someone might find me before going online was just a fraction of what is is now. I was willing to run the risk of dispensing with the anonymity for once, on account of the printed, regional reach of the news. But putting it on the internet is a very, very different thing.
So my dilemma. Was I the ignorant sod for once? The journalist asked for publishing permission, I naively assumed she was only talking about the printed version. I know there is no point to making a thing out of this. It is very unnecessary. Kind of serves my temporary ignorance right. I just don't want certain people to be able to trace me. I have burned some bridges in the past, email communication certainly guarantees some anonymity but f I want someone to find me, I will dictate my own terms and guard my internet privacy as I have done before.

*Edit: I've just reread my blog entry and it sounds just way too paranoid.

For Dummies


Randi speaks (again)

James Randi yet again on fraud Sylvia Brown's excuse not to go for his million dollar challenge in a News 4 item.

"She said she didn't know how to reach me.
Well, doh! She talks to dead people!"


Mr Randi I salute you!


Colbert interviews Reisman

Stephen goes intergalactic when he makes contact with a Hero floating in space.

"Are you saying you're a janitor with a PhD?" Stephen Colbert


Sidebar Update

I've included the Rijksmuseum widget in my sidebar for all to enjoy. The Rijkswidget allows you to view a different work from the collection of the Dutch National Museum for Art and History every day. And the 'reverse side' of every work provides more information about the work and the painter.
is all the techno stuff for downloading and embedding urls. I must agree with Susan in the comment section. She writes: I got tired of getting/unchecking the update message every single time I used my widgets and just allowed Version 2 to be updated. Version 3 is not an update. Please make Version 2 available for reinstatement.

She is referring to version 3 is for Mac OS 10.4 and higher. If you're using an older OS it will not work. I have to agree it is annoying to have to click the 'Not Now' option every time the widget loads.


Paul Simon turns on lamb

The field next to our house is littered with some adorable, soft, cuddly lambs. Most of them are scared of every noise or movement they detect. Anything sends them rushing back to the security of the mother vessel. Wooly Legged Jumper however is the odd one out. If I whistle Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover it comes nearer. If I whistle another tune it doesn't respond or react in any way. How very strange and compelling. I'd like to know why, but I feel such an idiot if someone walks by and sees me whistling at sheep. They avoid making eye contact when passing me. So I scare people. Good...


How Can I Drive With That Song In My Car

Dr Livingstone got me one of these as a present. Wherever my Mini goes, it goes with me. I have listened to tons of podcasts while driving. Some frequencies I use to tune in are very good. Some cities are swamped with minor radio stations gobbling up the unused ones in parts of the Continent I traverse. So sometimes it is quite useless if all my pre-programmed frequencies go all funny on me.
If you put the iPod in the docking station it instantly starts playing the first song by the band that's alphabetically listed first.
In my case it's those Scandinavian lads of a-Ha. Next sorting is done by album title. This is the album "Hunting High And Low". And the default song on the Pod is "The Sun Always Shines on TV".
Every time I get in the car and pop the Pod in the dock it starts playing. I've never grown tired of music before, but this is getting too much at times. That synthesizer riff grabs me at the throat time and time again. Instead of the car it's the song that's driving me 'round the bend.


Mowing to the sound of...

I decided to trim the lawn to the tune of the new Nine Inch Nails album The Slip. Mr Rez decided to do the cool thing and give the album away for free. It is downloadable here. Fill in your email, you'll receive a token and that will direct you to several links to several different downloadable formats. It's got a pdf with the artwork too. The links once activated remain valid for one hour only.

The mower drowned out the first track on the album. 999,999
I'll update shortly with my review of the album...

Link through Protogenes.

Sam Spade (not)

Pop quiz:
In this picture is my neighbour:
a) scooping dog turds from his lawn.
b) punishing naughty grass that won't grow in the right direction.
c) trying to whack some sense into garden animals.
d) unable to move because his hernia is playing up again.
e) all of the above

Time's up. The correct answer was: c. I've never seen the logic in wielding a spade, waiting for the mole to come up and then do whatever is intended.
Our lawn looks like the Pyrenees according to Dr Livingstone. It was very bad at the time, but I couldn't spring into action because I was still recuperating from my collapsed lung adventure.
But I managed to flatten the mole heaps, use the turned up earth somewhere else (good quality at that!) and sow in some new grass.

*note to self: grass not growing, maybe need to get to the shops and buy new batch of seeds.

And Mouser caught
the culprit. Not a mole, but burrows to the same effect.
So we've been free of unwanted re-landscaping for quite a while now. Except in the front lawn. There are new heaps there since yesterday.

I'm not an early riser, except if... No, I'm not an early riser.
I thought they only were active roughly taken around dusk and around dawn. Seeing it's nearly ten I'd say there's not a lot of chance he'll have success.
He was standing very still for, oh let's say, a fair ten minutes (yes I did watch him, I even had time to make myself some coffee and get the old camera out). And then suddenly,...
he started digging very ferociously. After three of four digs he stopped. I don't know what the idea was, but I bet the mole is much quicker going back down than him trying to get after it with that crude garden implement. If I were really out to exterminate the little mammal I'd put traps. They're very effective if placed correctly over the animal's dwelling/corridor. Dr Livingstone won't have any of that. We've got one of those plastic sticks with batteries in them that make those annoying bleep sounds. Only works for a very small range. And if you're in the garden at night when all the birds have gone quiet you can still hear that annoying subterranean buzzing.

Our animal friend with the christian conscience will probably have a good old pray before he rolls into bed tonight. If he gets any. Moles that is.


Grenadier Cat

Mouser is fascinated by the little sand bees popping in and out.

Flights of Fancy

Corvus corone private air display.


Newton in the wrong place

You can call me a pedant any day. I have a legitimate reason to sport that title. As many of my regular readers (are you there?) will have divined by now I'm a bit of a stickler when it comes to historical accurate facts.
I'm cramming for my exam on Cultural History in the Southern Netherlands (16th to 18th century). This year we are focusing on the aftermath of the legacy of the Rubens generation.
Well into the 18th century, two generations after Antwerp's great artists, the city still could bask in its former glory. A decline in the arts, but a reputation still internationally held in high regard.
A lot of artists emigrated abroad, some of them found posts as court artists. Tassaert moves to Paris, becomes an agrée of the Académie and later winds up working in Sanssouci for Frederic the Great of Prussia.
Verberckt ends up at the Royal French Court.
Scheemaeckers' bio from the National Portrait Gallery:

Sculptor. Born in Antwerp, he came to London and by 1725 entered into partnership with his countryman Laurent Delvaux (with whom he visited Rome, 1728-30). His reputation was established by his celebrated life-size white marble statue of Shakespeare, 1740, in Westminster Abbey, after a design by William Kent and erected by the Earl of Burlington, Dr Mead, Alexander Pope and Mr Martin.
A rival of Rysbrack, he had a large practice in monuments and busts; he retired to his native Antwerp in 1771.

And then my course syllabus says:
Jan-Michiel Rysbrack (º1692) made the bust of Milton and the monuments of John Gray and Sir Isaac Newton in the Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.

Granted, John Gray is a poet and has a memorial in Poet's Corner. True.
Eeeek! Well, shiver me timbers!
Newton's grave and monument are both close to the choir screen. Why would he be in Poet's Corner anyway? I know it's not a lot to get all worked up about but I just do. IF it is a case of semantics, fine, I could have dealt with that. But it's not so I haven't.

Anyway, on a different note, the model for the memorial of Newton can still be seen at the V&A.

Trivial fun fact:
"At Stowe House The Temple of British Worthies[(designed by Kent, built 1734-5) is a curving roofless exedra with a large stone pier in the centre surmounted by a stepped pyramid containing an oval niche that once contained a bust of Mercury. The curving wall contains 6 niches either side of the central pier. With further niches on the two ends of the wall and two more behind. These are filled by busts, half carved by John Michael Rysbrack these are John Milton, William Shakespeare, John Locke, Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Francis Bacon, Elizabeth I, William III and Inigo Jones the other eight are by Peter Scheemakers these are Alexander Pope, Sir Thomas Gresham, King Alfred the Great, The Black Prince, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Drake, John Hampden and Sir John Barnard (Whig MP and opponent of the Whig Prime Minster Sir Robert Walpole)."

The first illustration is a sculpture by Tassaert of Catherina the Great as Minerva from the Hermitage Collection in St Petersburg. The second one is the melancholic looking Milton.

And oh, you have reached the end of the pedantic rant.

It really is!

It's going all pear-shaped. It really is! The evidence is IN the trees.



Donkey see donkey do.

Mouser and the donkey next door. Are they related?


Who is watching?

Badly shorn sheep is watching you. Yes, it's still there! Idly waiting for someone to come and finish the job proper.

Every move you make
Every step you take
I'll be watching you

Abandoned Places

Just a plug for a special photographer and professional airline pilot Henk van Rensbergen.
From Henk's abandoned places site:

Old buildings, abandoned hospitals, industrial palaces overgrown with plants and trees, 
the remaining walls decorated with graffiti, smashed windows, rain dripping through the roof...

These places have become hard to find, difficult (or illegal) to access, dangerous to explore ... great to spend the day !
Today, the pyramids of the industrial revolution just uselessly stand in the way, they're a scar in the landscape.
The deafening noises have been replaced by silence, but if you listen carefully they will tell you their story.
Abandoned hospitals where you can still smell the anxiety of the ill, 
where you can hear the coughing of the TB infected 
and where once doctors and nurses walked through the shiny corridors. 
A 100 years old hotel, standing proudly at the waterfront, arrogantly overlooking the beach
and fiercely withstanding all the storms of the past century, a decayed symbol of wealth for the rich.
Why are abandoned places so attractive ?

Oh and a signed copy of his Abandoned Places book
would make a great gift.

The Godfather Routine

Thank you Mouser for providing us with our daily Godfather routine. This reminds me of a cool gadget. The Horse head pillow.

"The horse head plush™ is the perfect reminder of the mistake they once made in wronging you, or for someone who just needs a good shaking up.
Everyone knows somebody that deserves one of these, and really, at the end of the day, we're just flogging a dead horse here anyway, so just buy one!"


Ratty slain

Mouser has been playing good kitty today. It just showed up on the kitchen doorstep with the remnants of a successful hunt. The hunting game ended in the premature death of an Arvicola terrestris or water vole. I thought it was a rat at first. It is rather big for something resembling a mouse. But apparently it is just that. A big mouse. I took a quick snap before Mouser started to nibble at rodent head.
Ratty is no more. The Wind In The Willows character was a water vole and not a rat. Hence the confusion.

Tree spirits

Something you don't see anymore: A tree on the top of the house when under construction.
As a kid I would frequently wonder why they would do that. It was explained away by telling me it was because they had reached the highest point of a building. It still did not satisfy me on the 'Why' this was done. How goofy is it to a child's rational mind to let a passer by know that you've reached the highest point of your construction by using something as abstract as placing a tree on top of a house? Very, to mine that was.
I tried to think of more rational explanations.
To me it was equally ridiculous to use something as a tree for a lightening rod.
I had never actually given this any more much thought later in life and into adulthood. Out of sight is out of mind.
Until I was looking at some old pictures of a restoration of a windmill done back in 1976. There are pictures of some foliage on the roof and on the rod of the mill.
But why a tree?
I found this clipping from an article that appeared in the New York Times on June 14, 1909.

"They put the tree up because their forefathers believed that every tree had a spirit living in it. Every time a tree was cut down to build a house there was one more spirit homeless. Lest he should do some harm to the house or the workers they put a branch on the highest part of the building yet erected for him to live in. Lodged there he was supposed to be fooled or satisfied, and then once the roof was on he could do no more harm"

So thank you Man-From-Quebec-Who-Happened-To-Be-In-The-City-Today.

I know you're supposed to go 'aha'. But this clarification raises some practical issues yet again.
-How does the homeless spirit know where to look to find new lodgings?
-Does it have to be the same kind of tree?
-Why would putting on a roof stop spirits harming the house or the workers?
-The list is endless...

Anecdotal evidence from the past suggests that nearly a hundred years ago Canadian builders didn't have a clue.
Does the non appearance of trees on houses nowadays point to builders not believing anymore? Or have they just lost sight of the original meaning and found it pointless to carry on the tradition? I'm curious if there are still builders out there upholding the tradition.

Early surveys

In class yesterday we were discussing early surveying photographers and their pioneering work. We were studying the Americas of the 19th century during the 60's. To illustrate this topic two artists were chosen. Carlton Watkins (of Yosemite-fame) and Timothy O'Sullivan.
Our professor told us O'Sullivan was a follower of catastrophism. I had hear this term before, but purely related to in a geological sense. I thought of the asteroid theory hitting earth during the Cretaceous period among other things.
In the religious sense it is seeing the hand of God in landscapes or resorting to the "God did it" argument. The great flood, what have you.

In O'Sullivan's case I thought it not even relevant to mention this, it is not even the essence of his works. Watkins did the same, and I believe both did so out of pleasure of exploration and experimentation rather than, in O'Sullivan's case, a religious belief or motivation. I have enjoyed reading up on this, there are some interesting lines of thought here. We were just looking at purely formal traits of the work. If we were to take King's theories into consideration we would venture out of the realm of the purpose of the lecture. Bit still, I think it is a good mind exercise to see if King would have had a significant impact on the work of O'Sullivan. Unfortunately we can only guess and cannot ask them if they could shed some light on the matter.

I did enjoy the lecture yesterday and an very glad to have armchair access to a plethora of pictures and information.

To Be Determined

This fellow is taking up some ceiling space in the kitchen. It looks gargantuan from the picture, but I'd say it's roughly about four centimeters across. Any thoughts on what kind of moth it may be? It does not seem to be very active during the daytime. When I came downstairs this morning it had shifted residual place since last night. I've been searching for a match on tinterwebz but have failed so far.