Monday 31 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Brandy & St. Augustine for Heroes
CREDITS: © David P. Robinson/www.DaveRob.org.uk.
MAPS: John O'Groats, surrounding area and town. Click thumbnail to enlarge.
St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) wrote, "Solvitur ambulando" (It is solved by walking). The problem for which the saint was offering a solution seems to have become irrelevant for the people who have taken his advice. In some cases the solution might be judged to have become the problem. Whichever is the case they fall into that category that I have dubbed "Heroically Over Achieving Walkers". Saturday's picture was of Land's End: today's picture is of the harbor at John O'Groats, which is at the opposite end of Britain. The picture was taken by David P. Robinson, and appears in his Scottish Gallery, part of an extensive photo web site.
You may find out more about both places by visiting their web sites: Land's End and John O'Groats both have tourist destinations owned by Heritage GB. Their significance as starting or finishing points for 'End to End' walkers who attempt the 1,000 mile trek is well known, though purists may want to check the surrounding area map link above, and select Duncansby Head instead. For others attempting the complete coastal walk (anywhere between the 11,072.76 miles calculated by Britain's government mapping agency, the Ordnance Survey, and the more usual routes of between 4,000 to 7,000 miles) they represent hugely significant corners that are turned on those journeys.
This item highlights the achievements of a number of people who have, or still are, attempting Heroically Over Achieving Walks: it is not meant to be comprehensive, and salutes without exception all Heroically Over Achieving Walkers past, present, and future, wherever they may work out their obsession.
John Butler aims to complete a 1388 mile 'End to End' in September 2003, using a route over rural countryside rather than roads.
Tom Isaacs suffers from Parkinson's Disease, but plans to finish his coastal walk at the Millennium Bridge in London on 11 April 2003, and will run the London Marathon two days later on 13 April 2003, with a team of co-runners as part of the Parkinson's Disease Society team.
David Cotton is doing the coastal walk in the opposite direction to Tom Isaacs, raising funds for the Riding for the Disabled Association.
Graham Harbord is walking the coastal route in memory of his wife Carol who died from Hodgkin's Disease. To date Graham has raised £40,000 (about $64,000) that will benefit research into lymphoma cancer.
Members of Britain's Volunteer Coastguards are serially walking the coastal route to publicize the work of HM Coastguard Volunteers, and to raise funds for the Jubilee Sailing Trust, which organizes sailing for the physically disabled.
Peter Mann (click on 'CONTENTS' to see the 'Postcards From The Edge Of Britain' feature) used a bicycle for his round Britain trip, but this qualifies because the machines have been accepted as 'aids to pedestrianism'. Because this is my web site I don't have to answer to anyone, but if that doesn't convince you then perhaps if I tell you that Peter is part of a long tradition of eccentric ex museum curators, and rides a Moulton small wheeled bicycle, then you will approve his inclusion.
Karl Bushby's web site says, "It is possible to journey by foot from the southern most point of South America back to England and leave behind you an unbroken trail of footprints. The incredible excursion across four continents, 25 countries, crossing a frozen sea, six deserts, seven mountain ranges and covering 36,000 miles has never before been attempted. The attempt is currently underway and is being made by Karl Bushby a former British Paratrooper, who began the odyssey in October 1998. On completion of this expedition Karl will have completed the single, longest and continuous expedition on foot to date, having forged the longest unbroken path in human history." Samuel Johnson wrote, "Claret is the drink for boys, port for men, but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy." How many bottles Karl will require along the way is a daunting prospect.
If walking as an obsession is too rich for your blood then perhaps you may instead enjoy the 'Walking as Art' web page that includes Max Beerbohm, Gustave Flaubert, Cinderella, Ernest Hemingway, and Sir Kingsley Amis! The page even includes a useful guide for Karl Bushby on how ''To Walk, Gait, Posture and Balance in different languages'. I suggest that with immediate effect all dictionaries strike from their records the absurd meaning for pedestrian given as undistinguished; ordinary.
Sunday 30 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Identify a Fluphinox Smoothinora Click thumbnails to enlarge.
I am very pressed for time today, so the second item about those over achieving walkers must wait until tomorrow. Meanwhile there will be a short intermission: sales assistants will visit all parts of the theatre with ice creams, drinks on sticks, and snacks. I wonder how many years have passed since that custom ended. A far away correspondent sent me these two flower pictures, whose names and varieties are disputed by the spouses. If any reader can identify them an argument will be resolved, and possibly a marriage saved!
This week my friend Ruth bought me a book, 'Flowers of the Canyon Country', by Stanley L. Walsh and Bill Ratcliffe (1986, third edition, Canyonlands Natural History Association, Moab, Utah ISBN 0-937407-00-3). The photo illustrations are excellent, so I hope to be able to identify some of the flowers in the wild, and take photographs of them myself. This is a gift that has delighted me, and brought the possibility that one day I might even become one of those people who confidently remark, "Oh look, a fluphinox smoothinora in full bloom!"
Saturday 29 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Long Walk Round Dr. Syntax's Head
CREDITS: © Charles Winpenny/www.CornwallCAM.co.uk
MAP: Dr. Syntax's Head. Click thumbnail to enlarge.
The mainland coast of Britain measures around 7,000 miles in length. For anyone attempting to walk that route this place is clearly somewhere of significance: above Dr. Syntax's Head near Land's End, Cornwall stands the First and Last House. By any reckoning when this place is reached a corner must be turned, and the journey will take a new direction, and a whole new mind set will come into play. Indefatigable photographer Charles Winpenny took the picture, part of his daily record of Cornwall. Charles walked the six miles along the coast from Sennen Cove, past Dr. Syntax's Head and nearby Land's End, then on to Nanjizal.
If you visit Charles' web site in the next day or two you will also be able to see pictures of the wreck of the 1,846 tonnes cargo ship RMS Mülheim. The ship was carrying 2,200 tonnes of waste plastic destined for a landfill site en route from Cork, Ireland to Lubeck, Germany when she ran aground at 04:30hrs on Saturday 22 March 2003, removing the bottom of her hull in the process.
I wondered about the strange name of this place: a local, one Jeff Lewis, is quoted in 'Gavin's Adventures on the Mystical Isle of Britain' giving the explanation that the name is a reference to a fictional character created in the early 19th century by engraver Thomas Rowlandson, and verse writer James Combe, in a series called 'The Tours of Dr. Syntax' satirizing William Gilpin's 'Three Essays on the Picturesque'. Locally several of the curiously shaped rock formations have fanciful names such as the 'Armed Knight' and the 'Irish Lady', but I was unable to make the expected connection between Dr Syntax and the nearby Dr. Johnson's Head.
Charles' walk was a subset of the CCF (Cornwall Coastal Footpath), which in turn is a subset of the SWCP (South West Coast Path), which at 630 miles in length is the longest National Trail in Britain. My former colleague Robert, who has dragged me along on a number of shorter day walking expeditions, tramped this route alone, and reported that the rise and fall of the path makes it a much more strenuous endeavor than might be expected from an essentially sea level route. Carolyn Lee and Andy passed this way, their Land's End leg just part of their goal to walk the complete coast of Britain, recorded on their 'Keep to the Left' web site. Family commitments have dictated that their whole project has been broken down into a number of subsets that they are tackling in a series of vacations.
Eventually there are no more subsets: the daunting challenge that remains is to walk the complete 7,000 mile journey around the shores of mainland Britain. I know of one man who has done it as a single complete journey, interrupted only by the minor inconvenience of a strain fracture to his leg caused by walking 25 miles every day laden with the heavy pack required to support his trek.
That man is John N. Merrill, whose 1979 book 'Turn Right at Land's End: The Story of his 7000 Mile British Coastal Walk' (Oxford, UK: Oxford Illustrated Press) records the achievement. Clearly the author, whose journey started and ended in the center of London, thought that Land's End was somehow a significant point on his journey, both physically and psychologically. Most of John's books seem to be out of stock or out of print when I checked: I read this book many years ago and would like to do so again. Intriguingly, given the subject of yesterday's item, also listed under the same author name is a book called 'Turn Right at Death Valley'. Tomorrow I will continue with a second item on heroic over achievers in the field of walking.
Friday 28 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Stark & Unforgiving Death Valley Click thumbnail to enlarge.
CREDITS: Ben Haller/www.CloudPhotograhic.com
This is just a small selection from two galleries by Ben Haller featuring Death Valley. The pictures are worth seeing in their original home on Ben's web site where they are available in higher resolution and quality than I have implemented: just click on the Cloud Photograhic link in the heading of this item. Ben has very generous conditions for use, and if a particular picture takes your fancy then a high res version suitable for quality printing is available for a very modest $10. Galleries may be freely viewed, with images from many parts of the world. Ben is also a talented software developer, so if you use a Macintosh running OSX you may also be interested in his other web site known as Stick Software. The screen capture program Constrictor-230 is one of the best utilities of its type available, again at the modest price of $10 for registration after you have checked out that it meets your needs. The other programs on the web site are "anti-productivity tools for the discerning user", which are great fun.
Thursday 27 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Macrowebs in Brisbane & New York
Click on thumbnails to change the selection of the main picture.
Pictures are available in higher  -  -  -  resolution for larger monitors.
Australian contributor Carmel Melisanda Glover has sent a series of macro pictures from Brisbane, Australia. You may also enjoy visiting William Irvine's 'Macro New York City' web site. Sometimes the parts are more representative than the whole.
Wednesday 26 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Quattro Stagione and Obsession Thumbnails click to enlarge.
All around us Spring is manifesting itself in the most glorious way. Like teenage love birds my wife and I take pleasure in pointing out to each other some newly discovered delight: the glorious purple blossom in the picture was deemed worthy of a detour around the town for my appreciation. Some languages have better words for things than others: I have always preferred the musicality of the Italian word Primavera over the English word Spring, which has undesirable mechanical engineering nuances. We have been listening to Vivaldi's over exposed 'Four Seasons' (again 'Quattro Stagione' is so much more lyrical) on the last few evenings, and it still sounds wonderfully fresh however many times I hear it played. Most of the versions I have listened to have been true to the original, even if allowing themselves variety of expression: thankfully unlike 'Amazing Grace' we have so far been spared interpretations featuring bagpipe riddim or massed tap dancers.
Cursed with the sort of mind that wanders off into contemplation of the unknowable (something partially assuaged by the coming of the Internet) I wondered idly how many recordings had been made of the 'Four Seasons': I think this is the 'Guinness Effect', though I swear I haven't touched a drop in days. The disease seems to be highly contagious, possibly even contracted through reading the Guinness Book of Records, or visiting the Guinness World Records web site. Josef Svalander has 413 versions in his collection: if you are able to help he is still looking for some missing albums! The world owes us obsessives a great debt. Spookily I thought Josef looked a bit like me: perhaps it's a shared mark of being obsessive.
Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
The version I have been enjoying from eMusic is by Vesselin Paraschkevov, violin, with The Telos Ensemble Koln on the Telos label. Like me the Emusic editor's pick is Track 10 the Allegro Non Molto opening movement of Winter: click the album cover or the title link to see all the tracks. The whole album is played with a bright, sparkling verve, which is only constrained for the languid parts of Summer. The album is playing as I write: a very pleasant accompaniment for this item. Now I wonder if Josef has this one in his collection?
Grinning Mormon Meteor Revisited Thumbnails click to enlarge.
In a recent item about Ab Jenkins, the Mormon Meteor, I pictured a model of his car located in the Dixie College, St. George, Utah. I had occasion to revisit the College earlier this week, and wandered past the glass showcase for another look. I was sadly disappointed in myself when I realized that on my first visit I had been so focussed on the difficult lighting for the car that I had completely ignored the bust mounted above the showcase. I do not know how often sculptors depict their sitters with a cheery grin, but it is something that receives my approval, which probably indicates my louche tastes in art. Although perhaps not technically correct, I also like to see eyes rather than those blank stares of classical sculptures. It is regrettable that the Vandals were not totally eradicated by the Romans, and enough survived to have their descendants damage the eyes of this bust. The Hammurabi Code is so seductive.
Tuesday 25 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Progress & Controversy at Pah Tempe
MAP: Washington County Click thumbnails to enlarge selected picture.
UPDATE: a smaller (still 1.3Mb I am afraid), clearer topographical map has now been linked. The Famous Locations web site on movie locations now uses extracts from the 'James Bond Fly-Under' article featured on this weblog.
The Native Americans of the Paiute tribe called this place Pah Tempe. Here the Virgin River has cut through the Hurricane Fault to make its final descent from the Colorado Plateaus. After one final awesome burst of erosion in the stupendous gorge between the towns of St. George, UT and Mesquite, NV it joins the mighty Colorado River from which John Wesley Powell gave the Plateaus their name. The earliest of the Pioneer settlements in these parts were on the north side of the river around LaVerkin, but the Pioneers always had their eyes on the rich alluvial benches around what is now the town of Hurricane to the south. First the higher waters of the Virgin River had to be tapped, and brought to the land by the Hurricane Canal. The river was a barrier to communications for the growth of the new town whose first dwelling was erected just after the turn of the 20th century, but as early as 1908 the first bridge was erected, so that fording the river, especially dangerous in times of flash floods off the Plateaus, was no longer necessary. The town has since grown and prospered.
In 1937 the increase in traffic, from both local growth and increased tourism to the nearby Zion National Park, persuaded the road planners to erect a new bridge. To avoid the twists and turns needed to descend into the canyon they built the Hurricane Arch Bridge that boldly spans from one rim of the canyon to the other. Now the traffic volumes have grown to the point that a parallel bridge is being built to make a dual crossing. Work has reached the point where the arch is in place, and the last section of decking is being installed. In the latter part of the last century the Canal was replaced by a pipeline, which has recently been upgraded, with a new crossing of the river alongside the first historic bridge.
Pah Tempe is now the source of a controversy between the local water undertaking, the WCWCD (Washington County Water Conservancy District), and the resort owner, Kenneth Anderson. The hot sulphurated water aquifer that supplies the hot springs resort now has insufficient flow to allow operation to continue, allegedly following WCWCD work in the area. The resort was closed once before from 1992 to 1996 for similarly alleged reasons, and has now been closed since January 2002.
The controversy has widened to include proposals to pipe water through the area from Lake Powell, and the powerful Sierra Club (article in their PDF format newsletter) has joined the debate. Accusations are being made from all sides of the controversy. The democratic legitimacy of the WCWCD's authority has been questioned along with their fulfillment of legal obligations. There have even been opinions expressed that question the impartiality of the local courts.
This is not the place for a forum on the problems, so I have simply tried to objectively outline the publicly stated grievances, without I hope giving any weight to the debate. The WCWCD rebuttal of the accusations against them is in a PDF format file available from their web site, along with four other PDF documents of plans and maps detailing WCWCD activities associated with Pah Tempe. Evidence from the plaintiff appears on the Natural Frequency web site. It may be 'all about the oil' in some parts of the world, but increasingly in the arid south west it is 'all about the water'.
Monday 24 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Popcorn, Soda, and a Drive-In Click thumbnails to enlarge.
This Buick is presently on offer at our local friendly previously loved car lot. Anyone fancy picking up some popcorn, and soda, and heading to a drive-in movie? I think they might be showing 'Rock Around the Clock' with Bill Haley & the Comets.
Sunday 23 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Hickory, Dickory, No Dock Vardo
CREDITS: © Charles Winpenny/www.CornwallCAM.co.uk.
MAP: Godrevy, north Cornish coast. Click thumbnail to enlarge.
It seems that almost every English speaking child learns to count in the Romani language before moving on to the words derived from Latin that are more commonly used by adults: hickory, dickory, dock is 1-2-3 in the language of the people often called gypsies. Charles Winpenny took the picture of the mobile homes, known as a vardoes in Romani, near Godrevy in Cornwall, England. The Romanies, a name derived from the Romani word 'rom' meaning 'man', are thought by some researchers to have left northern India in about the 6th century. The name gypsy is thought to come from a once popular notion that they originated in Egypt. A mobile and self contained society, they penetrated as far as the British Isles around the 15th century. The vardo did not become a common way of making a home until the 18th century, before that bow framed tents were the usual dwelling.
The people, their language, and their way of life have all touched me in some small way. Thirty years ago on the west coast of Scotland I saw many scattered roadside encampments of bow tents. One farm I visited on the Kintyre peninsula even had its own resident Romany. He assisted with the unloading of my truck, and repeatedly admired the tarpaulin, commenting on its fine quality and durable manufacture. Deliberately missing the point of his eulogy, I asked him where he came from, and he said over there, waving in the general direction of a patch of woodland. The farmer told me that when he bought the property it was on the understanding that whenever the old fellow reappeared from his travels he would be allowed to camp in the wood. In some senses he behaved like the permanent resident, with the various owners and tenants of the farm being regarded as itinerant workers passing through!
My local dialect includes several Romani words, as does that of most English speakers: next time you describe someone as a 'pal' you are using a Romani word. In my youth, and probably even today, 'cushie barrie' and 'tassie barrie' were a common expression of approval; 'pani' was a word for the river bank, and traces its roots back to Hindi; when insulated quilts became popular they were known as 'dunhas' (which I pronounce as 'doownars'), which I always thought referred to the goose or duckdown used as a filling because a Scottish dialect word is 'downy', but I have since discovered it is a pure Romani word, closely akin to a Scandanavian word for the same item. Fergus Smith's web site has more information.
Romanies and horses seem inseparable. In my home county of Cumbria in the town of Appleby (formerly the county town of Westmorland, which was merged with the old county of Cumberland) there is an annual gathering of travelling people from many parts of the British Isles. Several years ago, just after the fair had finished, I pulled my own shiny, modern motorized vardo into a disused quarry used as a vehicle parking area. A splendid traditional vardo was already parked there, and I wandered over to pass the time of day respectfully. The old man was boiling water in an old fashioned brass kettle to brew tea, and though he was tolerant and pleasant, he kept his own counsel. I was desperate to babble a flood of questions, and beg to be allowed to look round his home, but my upbringing had taught me 'good manners'. I wish now I had been less circumspect.
One of the best known Romanies to enter mainstream British society was the Reverend George Bramwell Evans (aka Evens). His mother was full Romany, and he was an ordained methodist minister. His BBC natural history broadcasts, walks with his dog Raq, under the pseudonym of 'Romany', were an inspiration to the likes of David Attenborough and David Bellamy, natural history broadcasters of a later generation. Terry Waite, who was held captive in Beirut for many years, has said that recalling those broadcasts was one of the things that kept him sane. Waite is now Patron of The Romany Society. Romany's story is available as a video presentation from the 'StridingEdge' company. Romany's own vardo may still be seen at a park in the northern English town of Wilmslow. The Gypsy Collections at the University of Liverpool has a page on Romany wagons and vardoes, with lots of links and some interesting old pictures. If any of this has inspired you to own your own vardo, then Nick Dow will build you a fine, hand crafted example with a starting price of £5,000 (about $8,000) ex works. His web site shows many fine examples, with detailed information on construction.
Saturday 22 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Pin-Stickers Visit to Italy Thumbnail click changes selection.
CREDITS: Ben Haller/www.CloudPhotograhic.com
Reader Paolo Borgognone responded to my invitation to become a Pin-Sticker, and although he was not the first, this is the first feature that I was able to put together. The pictures are from Ben Haller's gallery taken on a visit to Italy. Ben's site has very generous conditions for use, and if a particular picture takes your fancy then a high res version for printing is available for a very modest $10. The galleries may be freely viewed, with images from many parts of the world. I particularly enjoyed the Death Valley pictures. Ben is also a talented software programmer, so if you use a Macintosh running OSX you may also be interested in his Stick Software web site. The screen capture program Constrictor-230 is one of the best utilities of its type available, again at the modest price of $10 for registration after you have checked out that it meets your needs. The other programs on the web site are "anti-productivity tools for the discerning user", which are great fun.
Paolo's own web site features regularly updated pictures from the Eternal City. When I visited today the feature was the elegant Villa Borghese (content may have changed by the time you visit), from where the gardens can be seen in the picture on your left. Just click the picture to pay a visit to Paolo's web site. My thanks to Ben, and to Paolo, for so generously sharing their work through their web sites.
Friday 21 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Watercolor Look at London Views
CREDITS © Louis Shine Click thumbnails to view painterly image.
On a recent visit to London reader Louis Shine took the four photographs. Looking at the two atmospheric and two iconic images I decided that they might look interesting presented as watercolors… and…ahem, other painterly effects. Certainly Turner's painting of the Houses of Parliament is better, though you must grant me that he had the advantage of flames to add a little bright color and subject interest, but it was an interesting exercise. Louis is innocent of any involvment.
I am interested in featuring work from other readers. If there is a story attached to the picture (which needs to be 500x375 pixels minimum with good tonal range and acceptable sharpness), and you have a web site, then so much the better. If there is any reason I feel I am unable to use your work I will tell you so frankly, and all offers received by email will be acknowledged.
Thursday 20 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Territorial Consolidation Signs Thumbnail click changes image.
On the southward return journey home from Salt Lake City we visited the town of Fillmore to see Utah's oldest government building. Fillmore lies in Millard County, both named for the 13th president of the USA, Millard Fillmore, who granted Utah the status of Territory with the Compromise of 1850, and appointed Brigham Young, also President of the LDS (Mormon) church, as the first governor. The site was chosen for its central location to give all residents of the new Territory equal geographical access to the seat of government. The envisaged Statehouse for the Territory of Utah was never completed: what you see in the picture is one of four wings planned to make a Roman cross. Only one full session of the legislature met using the Statehouse as the Capitol Building, and thereafter assembly took place in Salt Lake City. The Millard County web site has fuller details. In 1930 the Daughters of Utah Pioneers (DUP) converted the building to a museum, a function that continues to this day. When we visited on a wintery raw, wind swept day in March, between flurries of snow, the building was closed for renovation. The contractors activities have been made less obvious in the pictures by the careful selection of viewpoints.
We repaired for luncheon to Larry's Drive-In at Junction 163 on Interstate-15, which now carries traffic around the town. The cheery proprietor was mingling with his customers, including a posse of local law enforcement officers, though I was feeling more confident now that my passport bears an official stamp granting me the status of Conditional Permanent Residency. The tray bearing the chicken baskets was thoughtfully lined with a paper mat detailing the attractions and history of Millard County. The other building in the two right hand pictures is the Little Rock School House in Fillmore. Larry's otherwise excellent tray mat offered no coverage, nor was I able to find anything on the web, so for your further information I have linked my picture of the DUP plaque that adorns the front wall. I think those twin doors may be a reminder of how the genders were segregated for education in former times. I have always thought it strange that the pedagogues of my own youth should think that denying me access to half the population would be somehow enlightening.
The Shiplers Commercial Photographers Collection is available online from the Utah State History web site, and contains a number of interesting pictures showing the development of Fillmore in the early 20th century. The most conspicuous building in town is the Millard County New Courthouse, which sits in front of the former State Capitol (which itself served that purpose at one time) facing onto the main street. All of these things show how difficult it is to guess the future. The planners in the second half of the 19th century saw Utah developing from the center, whereas today there is a major conurbation around Salt Lake City in the north of the state, and a thriving town at St. George in the south. That pattern seems set to continue, but who knows what the map might show in 2150?
Wednesday 19 March 2003
Pix of the Day: How Green Is My Valley Click thumbnail to enlarge.
The INS interview went so well we arrived back home tonight in time for me to do a quick item. Mark was professional, efficient, courteous, and helpful: after a detailed overview of my application he granted two years Conditional Residence status, which allows me to live and work in the USA. At the end of that time I may apply for Permanent Residency, and three years hence I may apply for Citizenship. How green is my valley, indeed. These pictures were both taken from the overlook at a friend's house where we often visit. The valley has sprung to life with the recent precipitation, which I hope means that the reservoir levels will also be in good shape for the forthcoming summer dry season. Thank you to those who responded and became Pin-Stickers: Andrea in Canada; Bruno in Peru; Eric in Australia; 'Trouthead' and Marie in the USA; Paolo in Italy; and Sherin in India. I will be following up on these over the next few days, and if you left your email address then I will be contacting you directly when there is an appropriate item.
Tuesday 18 March 2003
Become a Pin-Sticker while I am gone!
The weblog will have a two day break while I am in Salt Lake City furthering my application to become a Permanent Resident of the USA. While I am gone why not stick a pin? There have been requests from Canada (by one of those flukes of geography from a place that is south of Detroit in the USA), and from the Antipodes with a gruesome tale of a bridge that bled. When sticking your pin aim high -- if you miss then hit the cancel button on the popup dialog, and try again.
If you stick a pin in the world map I will try to do an item about that location. Some detail will obviously be helpful: the name of a town, a local attraction, or a website URI. It doesn't have to be where you live, but it will be more interesting for me if it is! You are welcome to remain anonymous (or private by emailing me separately to let me know you have stuck a pin). The map has two example pins (one in southern Utah, the other in the north east of Scotland -- not as bizarre as they seem, because yesterday I bumped into a man from Scotland in a southern Utah shopping mall), which refer to a recent post to show you what I have in mind. Hover over the icons on the map, or use the 'List' command in the map menubar to see how your own entry might appear. Get sticking! [Thanks to Jenny Cockshull for the idea.]
Monday 17 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Pons Asinorum Diabolus Est Map: Devil's Bridge
CREDITS: © Tony Richards/www.LakelandCAM.co.uk Click thumbnail to enlarge.
For his latest posting Tony Richards strayed westward from Lakeland towards the Dales. I had always thought that this bridge, The Devil's Bridge over the River Lune at Kirkby Lonsdale in the northern English county of Cumbria, must have been named because building it was the same tough proposition described in Euclid's Fifth. It seems that the generally accepted reason is quite different: the name is said to derive from an old tale of superstition. Good excuse for another bridge picture though.
Steve Bulman's highly detailed web site on all matters Cumbrian has this excerpt about the structure and its history, "The bridge, which crosses the Lune, about a quarter of a mile east of the town, is very old, and for its curious workmanship, exceeds, perhaps, any in the north of England. The date of its erection has never been ascertained, but it appears to have existed before A.D. 1275, as there was in that year a grant of pontage obtained for its repair. This antique structure is built of fine white free stone, almost all of a size, and so truly squared and well cemented, that the joints are scarcely perceptible. It consists of three strong and lofty semicircular arches, turned and ribbed with the utmost exactness, about fifty-one feet span, supported by massive piers, and is, according to some, of Roman workmanship. At its east end is a stone bearing the date 1633."
This wonderful old bridge has had a very long working life, and in its heyday must have been a marvel in the same way that modern bridge engineering achievements are today. I will not be around to find out, but I wonder how many post Industrial Revolution bridges will still be standing 400 years after they were built.
Sunday 16 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Thrift May Be Economic Sabotage
Click thumbnails to change enlarged picture selection.
This venerable Dodge was parked outside our local thrift store. Perhaps, with the economy in a downturn, it is almost an act of economic sabotage to keep a vehicle running for so long: on the other hand it does mean one less imported vehicle, with a resulting saving on the balance of payments, and no impact on spiraling national debt. Perhaps if the Administration took such good fiscal care (and practiced equally good resource husbandry) the budget deficit might not be in its present perilous state. We have decided to let our old Chevy truck struggle on a little longer. If it makes it to Salt Lake City and back next week then perhaps we might manage to practice what we preach, and reduce our own debt just a little.
Saturday 15 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Hot and Cold Desert Contrasts
CREDIT: (LH) © Ann Bowker/Mad About Mountains
Click panorama to load scrollable viewer. MAP: Cairngorm Plateau
CREDIT: (RH) © Robert F. Riberia/www.UtahRedRocks.com
Click panorama to go to the Utah Red Rocks web site. MAP: Arches National Park
If like me you are a mapaholic (there are two kinds of people: those who use maps, and those who are lost), then the sheer size of the maps on the links I have given will give you a good idea of the enormous range of landscape that these two panoramas depict. The top panorama is the Cairngorm Plateau in northeast Scotland taken from the slopes of Beinne a'Bhuird, which lies in the bottom southwest corner of the map, with the Cairngorms themselves stretching away to the northeast. The bottom panorama includes Balanced Rock, which is in the middle of Utah's Arches National Park. Both are desert landscapes: one a cold Arctic tundra; the other a hot continental interior rainshadow. Both places are dangerous for the ill prepared.
The panorama pages created by each photographer on their respective web sites are worth visiting, showing completely contrasting environments: Ann Bowker covers the Scottish hills; and Robert F. Riberia covers the Colorado Plateaus (with a good visitor guide for Arches National Park, and the original of that panorama is truly splendid). Repeatedly I get asked if I am homesick, and leaving aside my assertion that home is just the place that when you have to go there they have to let you in, now through being doubly blessed because I have been lucky enough to experience both places, I feel that both are equally my homeland.
Friday 14 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Phoebian Clock Makes the Rounds Click thumbnail to enlarge.
At this time of the year, as the morning sunlight spills over the escarpment of the nearby Hurricane Fault, in a neighbor's garden behind our house a tree lights up as though someone had thrown a switch. The effect is a delightful start to the day. Later when the sun has swung round to the west, it casts a warm glow though the tracery of branches on other trees that are not yet in leaf, and makes a yellow bush burn bright. Days started and finished in this way, by a Phoebian clock with organic numerals, are agreeably spiritual and primeval.
Thursday 13 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Lochs in the Wild Recesses
CREDITS: © Douglas E. Wilcox/Scottish Mountain Photo Gallery
Click thumbnails to open original panoramas - large images, may require scrolling!
MAPS: Lochs Dee & Doon.
Almost a year ago I featured the Loch Dee photograph on the left, and when I revisited the Scottish Mountain Photo Gallery today I was again struck by what a wonderful resource Douglas E. Wilcox has built on his website. Until the early part of the last century these Wild Recesses of Galloway were difficult of access, the name referring to the place being used as a retreat for armies during dangerous times. Even today they have a haunting lonely beauty despite better access. For more information on this beautiful and relatively unspoilt area visit the Southern Uplands page.
Wednesday 12 March 2003
Pix of the Day: I Can See Clearly Now
CREDITS: © Ann Bowker/Mad About Mountains. Click thumbnail to enlarge.
After a morning of rain, Ann Bowker took this picture at the foot of Derwentwater in the English Lake District. Ann's CAMera page has been less frequently updated of late, and I have missed the enjoyment of her pictures. After titling this item I began humming the tune for these lyrics (click the controller forward arrow for music):
I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun shiny day
I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I've been prayin' for
It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun shiny day
Look all around, there's nothin' but blue skies
Look straight ahead, nothin' but blue skies
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun shiny day
That midi track is not too bad as such things go, but I went looking for something a bit more… ahem… musical. The net yielded the original by Johny Nash, a Ray Charles cover, and even a quotation from Richard Milhouse Nixon, "I can see clearly now… that I was wrong in not acting more decisively and more forthrightly in dealing with Watergate… ", which did make me wonder if the saxophonist on that midi track might even be… no, surely not! eMusic offered a number of versions, including Bluegrass and Reggae styles, but eventually I arrived at the work of a Louisiana Cajun/Zydeco musician called Queen Ida. This was much more to my taste.
Recently I heard an earnest young radio interviewer comment to her guest, Roxy Music's Brian Ferry, that his latest album had a distinctly British sound. After an eloquent, precisely timed silence, Ferry replied that he found that very interesting because most of the songs were of American origin, and the musicians who played with him on the album had a mainly Cajun background. Harumph! If the synthesis of the traditions that make up the Cajun/Zydeco genre interests you, then the CajunZydeco.net web site is a good place to start, where there is a beginners guide for this music that is becoming more widely known, and incorporated into other mainstream genres. For information on Queen Ida visit her representation agency. The eMusic link has sound samples from all 14 tracks, which you may download without signing up for anything: just click on the album cover to be taken to the page.
Perhaps you might be reassured by the following: a surfeit of Scottish Dance Band music gave me an early dislike of the accordion. This stuff is quite different! I opened my ears a few years ago after a friend in England made a casual remark that he was enjoying listening to World Music. Thanks, Mike.
Tuesday 11 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Blessed with Inability Click thumbnails to enlarge.
After the snow and rain of recent weeks, I wandered into our lower garden today. I have been blessed with an inability to discriminate between weeds and flowers, so I was able to enjoy these three plants equally. She who must be obeyed has had the mower serviced, so I feel certain some of these delightful enhancements to any garden plot will soon be despatched. Knowing more is sometimes enjoying less.
Monday 10 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Son of Speed & Salt Click thumbnail to enlarge.
Firstly please accept my apology for the quality of today's picture, taken under difficult lighting conditions, with the subject in a glass display case. The model sits in the foyer of the Kenneth N. Gardner Student Center in Dixie College, St. George, Utah, to commemorate the achievements of Ab Jenkins, who in his lifetime held more world speed records than any other person. The version of the real car's recent history on display beside the model might be a sanitized version in the light of another account. The 'Utah History To Go' web site has an article on Jenkins, and from the printed version of Barracuda Magazine, whose pin up girls would probably have met with the disapproval of a man who never raced on Sunday, their web site has an extract with two interesting pictures. The Duesenberg company only ever built three examples of the Mormon Meteor, and Classics.com has an item and a large picture of one of the other members of the trio in their section on the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, which strangely omits the car from the web site.
Sunday 9 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Revisiting Brideshead Revisited
CREDITS: © Don Burluraux/North York Moors CAM
MAPS: Castle Howard and Fryton. Click thumbnail to enlarge.
This is Castle Howard in North Yorkshire, England, built for the Howard family in 1699, and continuously occupied and remodelled by them ever since. Don Burluraux visited and took the picture. Like many of the places I feature, I can say that I have been there, but in this case <blush> I have to confess that I never made it further than the car park. At a time when money was scarce, we loaded up our youngest daughter and my mother in law into our battered Mini Clubman and set off for a holiday in a rented cottage in Fryton, which is close to Castle Howard. We had barely arrived when a front wheel bearing on the Mini collapsed. I performed the repairs myself, using the resources of a repair shop in the next village who had the necessary hydraulic press to remove the old bearing and install the new part. Despite this new rôle as a DIY repair man (known in the desert where I live now by the creative sobriquet 'shade tree mechanic'), most of the budget allocated for visiting local attractions was used.
Castle Howard was top of our list, so we went there anyway. The entry fees for three adults and a child took my breath away! It was possible for one adult to go, thereby accompanying my daughter so as not to disappoint here, and because it was deemed 'educational', but none of the adults would agree to be the favored guardian. It was a low point in my life, although otherwise my memories of that holiday are among the best I have, including from better financial times.
Castle Howard was used as the setting for 'Brideshead Castle' when British Granada television company did an adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's highly regarded novel 'Brideshead Revisited'. Around that time commercial TV was seen as commercially successful, but lacking in the gravitas that the BBC was perceived as having, particularly in the presentation of drama. Granada set out to prove the perception unfounded, and in the way of such things decided that spending money was the way it should be done. No expense was spared: the cast was drawn from the ranks of repertory actors, and was headed by John Gielgud; costumes and backgrounds were lavish, including the cost of £50,000 for every minute of film shot aboard the ocean liner QE2; the eminent QC John Mortimer, the author of 'Rumpole of the Bailey', was retained to write the script. The quality of the result may be gauged by my reluctance to say Mr. Mortimer was 'hired' to perform his services.
The total cost according to Granada was £4.5 million, but industry insiders estimated the true cost to be as high as £11 million, either being a huge sum at the time. The program was a resounding success with that part of the television watching public whose opinion counted. In that time, in the middle of the Thatcher Years, it seemed to show that even culture could be bankrolled into submission, at a price.
Saturday 8 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Play Misty For Me
CREDITS: © Tony Richards/www.LakelandCAM.co.uk
MAP: Windermere. Click thumbnail to enlarge.
With unprecedented neglect I have allowed a week to slip by without featuring a picture from Tony Richards' CAMera web site. That does not mean that the pictures have not been up to snuff, quite to the contrary, but rather that I have been trying to bring you as much variety as possible. To correct this state of affairs I surfed through Tony's archive page, and this was my choice. The picture was taken recently on a misty morning at the head of lake Windermere, from Brathay Hall, in the English Lake District. The Hall is named after the nearby River Brathay, which I guess is one of the sources of that mist. Tony's prodigious, high quality output leaves me in awe.
Friday 7 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Human Flotsam in Web Art Project
CREDITS: © Charles Winpenny/www.CornwallCAM.co.uk.
MAPS: Marazion, Luce Bay, and Kirkcudbright Bay. Click thumbnail to enlarge.
This fishbox has struck lucky to be washed ashore in the highly desirable location of Marazion, Cornwall, England, within sight of the lovely St. Michael's Mount. From the photograph I am unable to see any owners name on the box, though usually these are marked on so that eventually with assistance the boxes, like Pooh, can find their own way back home: perhaps that is why this one was lost at sea. When I lived on the shores of the Irish Sea, I frequented two beaches that acted like lost property offices for any flotsam in the area. I spent many hours beachcombing, and found fish boxes from as far afield as South Africa, Russia, and Portugal. All manner of items were washed ashore, including rubber boots and assorted footwear, rope, plastic kitchen equipment, and on one occasion a TV set with the tube intact!
However, not everyone is lucky enough to have access to the shoreline. To address this lack one enterprising web site has pioneered urban beachcombing as an easier alternative. The 'human flotsam' of the title are not those unfortunate people who fall out of the bottom of our society. Some of these people look prosperous; one pretty girl with purple hair may even be a witch. The 'urban beaches' being combed for this project are those photobooths seen in places like shopping malls, and travel termini. The site home page asks, "HAVE YOU EVER LOST A PICTURE OF YOURSELF? LEFT A PHOTOBOOTH IN A HURRY? JILTED A LOVER?" Then worryingly suggests, "IF YOU HAVE, YOU MIGHT BE HERE." The site is IsThisYou.co.uk, and in addition to the people pictures also has a section for various objets trouvés, mostly discarded notes and letters though there is also a painting and a scary cloth, from the urban flotsam of the streets, football terraces, and wherever people forgather in public. The site offers a means for visitors to identify themselves as the owner of any of the items, and one subject (a Seinfeld Show Kramer look alike from a torn corner) has been positively identified by his brother. It might not be great art, but it's great fun.
Thursday 6 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Studies in Light and Shade
CREDITS: © Melisanda Glover/Personal Galleries. Click thumbnails to enlarge.
From Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Carmel Melisanda Glover has sent me some studies in light and shade. There are eight pictures in the set, and all may be seen by visiting Melisanda's 'Shadows' gallery. You may also enjoy her 'Octoptych' gallery. An earlier feature 'Water Dragon' was well received, so I hope I am able persuade this talented artist to send me some more pictures in the near future.
UPDATE: another gallery Shadows 02 has now been added, which contains a further twelve pictures that continue Melisanda's exploration of light & shade. See if you can spot the waterdragon lurking on the rock, halfway between light and shadow, a small happenstance that was only discovered much later.
Wednesday 5 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Dizzy View From the Lighthouse
CREDITS: © Gary Brooks/Personal Album.
Larger version available for bigger monitors. Thumbnail clicks for normal view.
This is another excellent picture from Gary Brooks, whose 'San Antonio Cows' picture was featured back in February. When I first saw this picture it reminded me of another picture, a famous one taken from the top of the Berlin Radio Tower. That picture was almost an abstract, with most of the detail being the black tracks trodden in the snow by pedestrians on the ground. If you visit Gary's gallery (there is link in the header of this item), you will be able to appreciate the wry coincidence. After visiting Gary you may also enjoy the official South Padre Island, Texas, web site.
Tuesday 4 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Oh, The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring, Tra-La!
eMUSIC current pick:The Very Best of Gilbert and Sullivan
Music from The Gondoliers, The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, The Yeomen of the Guard, Iolanthe, Patience and Ruddigore. D'Oyly Carte Opera Company (Memoir)
CREDITS: © Charles Winpenny/www.CornwallCAM.co.uk. Click thumbnail to enlarge.
After a recent picture of daffodils on St. David's Day from Charles Winpenny comes this picture of primroses. I have fond memories of going with my mother to a place called 'Doctor's Brow' where the primroses grew in profusion. She would dig up the plants, forbidden now that, if I am correct, all wild flowers are protected, and replant them in damp shady spots of our garden.
Monday 3 March 2003
eMUSIC current pick: Effortless Command of the Medium
Click for album details: Peggy Lee - Close Enough for Love (DRG Records)
Peggy died on Monday 21st January 2002 at her Bel Air, Los Angeles, home at the age of 81 after a series of health problems. Born Norma Deloris Egstrom in Jamestown, North Dakota, on May 26th 1920, she left behind a legacy of work that seems as fresh and relevant today as when it was recorded. In 1938 Norma went to Hollywood, but had no success. She returned home and sang on WDAY, the Fargo radio station. It was WDAY's station manager who gave her the name Peggy Lee. Later she joined the Benny Goodman Band, and it was from her work there that she went on to receive international acclaim.
The official web site, unlike so many cobbled together for famous performers, is well worth a visit. The site has photo galleries, discographies, biography, and tributes, all done with respect, but thankfully without gush and fluff. Perhaps Peggy's writing talents are the least generally appreciated part of her work: her web site has an article by Sean Connors that sets the record straight. Between 1958 and 1989 Peggy received twelve Grammy nominations, but was denied a win by luminaries such as Ray Charles and Judy Garland, and on no less than six occasions by head diva Ella Fitzgerald, except in 1969 when she scored a win with 'Is That All There Is?'. In 1995 this clearly unfair imbalance of nominations over wins was corrected when a richly deserved 'Lifetime Achievement Award' was made. The Internet Movie Database has a filmography, which includes details of her TV appearances.
One way I like to remember Peggy is for her contribution to Disney's 'Lady and the Tramp', both for her writing and for work on the soundtrack. For many years the Disney organization refused to pay her royalties on video sales of the feature: the scope of her 1955 contract had not include such royalties at a time when video technology had yet to be developed. However, in March 1991, after a three year court battle, a landmark legal victory against Disney was won, awarding the singer and writer $2.3 million for her work.
When I came to live here I was promised sunshine every day, and warm temperatures for year round basking. Today that promise was broken: the cloud rolled down the hill, and huge snow flakes fell for most of the day. The temperature dropped so that as I sit writing this my toes are chilled, and quite possibly turning blue. The poor almond tree in the garden was nipped in the bud, too. Another immigrant from the northeast of the country issued a warning when I first arrived, prophesying that like her I would turn into a 'desert weenie'. Seems the prophesy has come true. Later in the day the clouds cleared, the sun shone again, and the skies returned to their accustomed blue. Naturally, however, the temperatures at dusk dropped even further. As Dylan sang, I don't need a weather man to tell me what the weather is: never trust the locals to forecast conditions. Already they are claiming that it's going to be hotter this summer than last. Heaven forbid, surely that can't be true?
Sunday 2 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Some Defining Cultural Moments
CREDITS: © John. H. Farr/www.FotoFeed.com. Click thumbnail to enlarge.
Certain moments seem to distill and encapsulate cultural perceptions: Mick Jagger in a 'dress' releasing butterflies at the free Hyde Park concert; John Lennon and Yoko Ono being interviewed during a peace promoting honeymoon 'Bed-In' at an hotel in Amsterdam; and sarong wearer David Beckham kicking a member of the opposing Argentinian World Cup football team. If I need to tell you, because your not from Britain, that Beckham is Posh Spice's husband then that is entirely consistent with my main theme. If you need to be told that she is… oh, never mind! sic transit victoria. Did you ever watch the 1976 movie, with Kris Kristofferson and Barbara Streisand in the lead rôles, entitled 'A Star is Born'?
My memory, which is growing increasingly more unreliable recently, has in its vaults a reel containing the movie's final scene. The world weary Kristofferson character climbs into his red Ferrari and roars off down a long, straight desert road. Then the car goes out of sight down a dip, and the soundtrack falls silent: we are left wondering what happened. Roll the titles. It's one of those 'supply your own ending' endings that would have sent my long gone father in law into a snorting and fulminating rage. That scene distills many of my own iconic (mis)perceptions of Hollywood, the rock music business, and life in America into a potent jigger of mawkish regret for the passing of events and places that I have never actually experienced.
Except for the road. I have experienced the road. Not just a road like that, mind you, but that road in the picture. John Farr's shot was taken to the northwest of Taos, New Mexico, near Arroyo Hondo, a small town that lies on State Highway 522 just north of US Highway 64. The area is a broad high-altitude bench between the Sangre de Cristo Range and the San Juan Mountains, which both run north towards the state border with Colorado. The otherwise featureless plain is riven by the mighty Rio Grande fault, with the river of the same name flowing in its embrace. You may view similar scenes from northern New Mexico life by visiting John's web site, which is updated six times a week with images from the places that he loves so much. When you reach the web site you will also find links to diverse destinations that encompass John's other work of writing and commentating about life, the universe… and everything! Swing by there soon for a potent jigger of your own.
Cenhinen Soup, Please
CREDITS: © Charles Winpenny/www.CornwallCAM.co.uk.
MAP: Aberystwyth. Click thumbnail to enlarge.
Exiled on the far side of the world I almost missed St. David's Day! To all Welsh people in parts of the world where it is still 1st March -- have a great St. David's Day. My thanks for the reminder to Charles Winpenny whose picture of the Welsh National Flower graces this item. Visitors unfamiliar with the traditions associated with the Saint and his day may read about such things as they crunch on a raw leek. It seems that the Welsh word for leek is the same word used for daffodil, which must cause unending confusion in Aberystwyth restaurants. Although I am told that daffodils are edible, I think I will stick with the leeks, thanks all the same.
Saturday 1 March 2003
Pix of the Day: Personal Best Hits the Heights
CREDITS: © Dave Newton/www.Daves-Lakeland-Mountains.co.uk
MAP: Helvellyn & Place Fell [location], Helvellyn massif [larger scale].
Click on the static image to open a scollable panorama.
Dave Newton has contacted me with barely suppressed excitement, discernable even through the aseptic medium of email. On a recent hike up Place Fell in the English Lake District (from which I featured the lovely Megan, his companion) Dave took a series of beautiful pictures of the Helvellyn massif. He has been trying to turn these into a panorama, but until recently the results did not meet his expectations.
Now he has succeeded admirably, and the final version is available on his web site. My version seen above may be more manageable, but does not really do full justice to the work. To fully appreciate the picture you still need to visit the web page, which is both titled, and captioned with the names of the places and mountains depicted. I am delighted that Dave is having so much fun with his new digital camera on his web site, and also grateful that he shares his results with such engaging pride. With luck there will be lots more like this to come in the future.
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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)