Tuesday, 31 August 2004
If You Go Down In The Woods Today
CREDIT: © Julian Thurgood/VisitCumbria.com
WHERE: Keswick, Cumbria, England. WHAT: teddy bear wood carvings.
MAP: Keswick. Thumbnail pops-up larger image.
As children we had access to a wind up gramophone, complete with a handful of badly abused vinyl discs. Scouring the web we have managed to locate these old favorites; 'The Laughing Policeman' by Charles Penrose was still able to raise a smile. The British Broadcasting Corporation, or as one American announcer famously fluffed the name "British Broadcorping Castration" but still known as 'Auntie' or 'The Beeb' to many people who will never forgive the capitulation of using 'radio' instead of 'wireless', seemed to play a sort of secret children's top fifty in those days. The most enduring favorite song was surely 'Teddy Bears Picnic' by the 1936 Henry Hall Orchestra, with vocals by Val Rosing. The era is recalled by the SterlingTimes.co.uk web site on the Hello Children Everywhere page. Thorough wallowing in faded patriotic nostalgia is recommended.
The photograph of the teddy bears picnic in our thumbnail feature was taken for the VisitCumbria.com web site. The bears are carved from solid wood, using only a chainsaw, by operatives at the Derwent Bay Bears workshops, near Keswick in the English Lake District county of Cumbria. The bears are then treated to remove burrs and make them suitable for an outdoor life, but to retain their rustic appearance.
VisitCumbria.com is a big web site, and owner Julian Thurgood has begun the daunting task of updating, often replacing older pictures with newer scans, or upgrading pages. We can think of no better virtual introduction to the area, particularly suitable if you are planning to physically visit for a vacation.
Monday, 30 August 2004
More Funicular & Flood Disaster
CREDIT: © National Park Service/Cultural Resources
WHERE: Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA WHAT: 1889 dam burst and flood.
MAP: Johnstown. Thumbnail pops-up larger image.
We continue yesterday's connection, between flood and funicular, with a visit to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA. On 31 May 1889, after heavy rains the day before on Memorial Day, the badly maintained South Fork Dam, impounding the waters of Lake Conemaugh, burst. The resulting flood, equal to Niagara's flow for thirty six minutes, destroyed downstream communities in a rage lasting only ten minutes.
There is a succinct summary in the PBS [Public Broadcasting Service] Building Big series. The history of the flood from a railroad perspective is covered on the CatskillArchive.com web site, which features historical pictures, chapters from a narrative history, and a large scale diagrammatic map. JAHA [Johnstown Area Heritage Association] has a photo illustrated history of the disaster, and a disturbing statistical facts page, which also shows one of the most famous images of the time.
The Johnstown Flood Museum is housed in the town's former library, built to replace a building destroyed in the flood. The museum has an Oklahoma House feature, detailing this early type of prefabricated dwelling. The museum building history page shows a picture of the museum, with the Johnstown funicular in the background.
On yesterday's feature site, at Funimag.com in an article by Brad E. Smith, you may read about the Johnston Inclined Plane funicular railway. It was designed by Samuel Diescher, who later designed the machinery to operate the world's first Ferris wheel at the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition, and built after the flood to open in 1891. Although no longer profitable by the 1960s, the railway had provided the only emergency access during times of flood, and its presence had saved lives. In 1984 the railway was completely refurbished, and is now a major tourist attraction.
Today's thumbnail feature picture, thought to show sightseers examining the damage, comes from an NPS [National Park Service] Cultural Resources web site entitled 'Run for Your Lives! The Johnstown Flood of 1889'. The resources include three  picture pages, plus teacher project notes
The flood waters, made more dangerous by miles of barbed wire from a destroyed manufacturing plant, and the following fire in the debris, killed 2,209 people and caused $17 million of property damage. No successful legal action was ever brought against the owners of the dam, the South Fork Fishing & Hunting Club, whose members included Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick.
Sunday, 29 August 2004
Devon's Unique Funicular Railway
CREDIT: © Michel Azéa/Funimag.com
WHERE: Lynmouth-Linton, Devon, England. WHAT: water powered funicular railway.
MAP: Lynmouth-Linton. Thumbnail pops-up larger image from source web site.
The Boscastle floods, seen in yesterday's item, reminded many of earlier events in the neighboring county of Devon. More than half a century before in 1952, similarly in the middle of August, a devastating flood of the same kind hit the village of Lynmouth. Pages from the  BBC,  David Huxtable, and the  Exmoor National Park Authority cover the disaster. Both floods were particularly shocking, because such events are unusual for the UK terrain and weather.
Today we visit an interesting engineering attraction that connects Lynmouth with its twin village of Linton, which sits six hundred feet above on the top of the cliff.
Michel Azéa claims his Funimag.com is the world's first web magazine about funiculars. We visited the Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway presentation to find out about this unique subtractively water powered funicular railway. Regular readers will by know by now how much we like sites that give in-depth coverage, and Michel's presentation is both satisfyingly comprehensive and finely detailed.
Funimag.com has pictures of the furnicular cars, track, operating equipment, local area, staff, passengers, and a map. Technical specifications and an explanation in layman's terms of how it works, complete with graphic illustration, round out the presentation. The detail that tickled us was that the two sets of tracks are laid so close together that a spread apart is necessary where the cars pass one the other.
There is also an official site.
Saturday, 28 August 2004
Flood Devastation In Boscastle
CREDIT: © NAME/CornwallCAM.co.uk
WHERE: Boscastle, Cornwall, England. WHAT: summer flash flood devastation.
MAP: Boscastle. Thumbnail pops-up larger image.
We have often featured the work of CornwallCAM.co.uk from Charles Winpenny. Usually these show the charm of this delightful area, but today we show a sad picture of the devastation that was wreaked on the village of Boscastle. Earlier this month, on 16 August, heavy rain in the hinterland caused a flash flood in the rivers that drain the area. The village took the full force of the waters, causing damage to buildings, and sweeping away vehicles. Now the security restrictions have been lifted, Charles was able to visit the area to record the sad scene. We have been following events in Boscastle over the last couple of weeks, and the CornwallCAM.co.uk photo reportage is the best we have seen. Visit Charles for more pictures and links to the BBC reports.
Friday, 27 August 2004
Avoiding Chewing Gum Of The Mind
CREDIT: © Godfrey Reggio/Koyaanisqatsi.org
WHERE: the modern world. WHAT: a film makers examination.
Thumbnail  pop-up larger images.
Television programs seem to be denigrated in direct proportion to the number of people watching. Better to be disparaged than to be ignored, though, especially in something rooted as much in commerce as in culture. Oddly, many of the denigrators are the people watching the programs. As happens to junk food, some member of the chattering classes will occasionally write a humorous piece singing its praises.
Looking for pithy quotations, we saw Frank Lloyd Wright, architect, credited with 'chewing gum for the eyes'; Richard Buckminster Fuller, inventor of the geodesic dome, so an architect/engineer, with 'chewing gum for the mind'; Karl Albrecht, management theorist, was a co-contender for that last one; and Groucho Marx, film maker, with 'I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a good book.' When did that last happen?
Chewing gum is not all bad, however: Thomas Alva Edison, inventor, was credited with 'Chewing gum: the national anthem without words'. The single quotation marks absolve us from any responsibility to track down reputable sources for the attributions.
We rarely chew gum, having made a firm stand against any pretence of anthem singing many years ago. Much like searching for a restaurant that suits one's budget and preferences, we went looking for a source of cultural nourishment with more taste and satisfaction than chewing gum. Through the wonder of the web, and the service structure that brought you… well, chewing gum and television… even as we speak two DVDs are winging their way here for our enjoyment.
We thought we would examine the expectation, as a sort of compare and contrast, with the final experience. Our first choice was 'Koyaanisqatsi', which is not just a film, but part of a trilogy with its own web site. The word is from the Hopi language, a nation culture-locked within the Navajo nation, which is in turn culture-locked within the EuroAmerican dominance of the United States. The word means 'life out of balance', and has even generated its own fan site. Explore the web site and read the pitch to form your own view. We found the notes from producer and director Godfrey Reggio helpful in deciding if we were interested in viewing this film.
For the purposes of this web site, of course, the film gains a feature here by offering a still images gallery. We picked five from the forty on offer. How relevant, or insignificant, they transpire to be in the overall context of the film remains to be determined. If nomen est omen, there may be trouble ahead:
* ko.yaa.nis.katsi (from the Hopi language),
Thursday, 26 August 2004
Three Men In Search Of A Boat
CREDIT: © Terry Smith/Interesting Trekking Scenes
WHERE: Osmotherley, North Yorkshire, England. WHAT: wet weather hiking.
MAP: Osmotherley & North Yorks Moors. Thumbnail pops-up larger image.
Our first redoubtable British walker, Andrew Leaney, headed across the English Channel to explore the French Pyrénées, but our second, Terry Smith, stayed closer to home. We think in the latter case it may have been a beer related issue. Science writers often warn about the pitfalls when making apple/orange comparisons, or in this case perhaps we should say vin et bière pression. Neither is intrinsically better than the other, and both are for enjoyment in their own right.
Similarly there is fine weather walking, and wet weather walking. One might have a marked preference for one over the other, but a fair weather only walker will miss some moments of magic. Perforce we have to admit that fine weather walkers also miss getting wet; but that is their loss, and their lives are thus impoverished.
Terry, and his two amis de joure, visited Osmotherley (mottos: 'Free Beer Tomorrow', and 'Walkers Welcome Without Muddy Boots') for a damp trudge in the North Yorks Moors. See the pictures, and read the ancient legend; wonder if it might not be true. Our own walking days encompassed times like this: on one occasion, along a path named Moses Trod, we had to stop at regular intervals to pour water out of our boots. Yet with our hands on our hearts, we can honestly say that there was never a day we ventured out that we did not receive some reward.
Wednesday, 25 August 2004
Col And Marmot From The Pyrénées
CREDIT: © Andrew Leaney/Leaney.org
WHERE: France. WHAT: center section of the Grande Randonnée GR10.
MAP: Gourette-Luchon + source page stages. Thumbnail pops-up larger image.
In this, and the following day's item, we are going to catch up with a couple of redoubtable British walkers. Andrew Leaney headed for the French Pyrénées mountains, we guess inspired by Lance Armstrong's Tour de France stage victories a few weeks previously. Even Lance would be hard pushed to ride his bicycle over some of the country that Andrew walked across, though as commentator Bob Roll says, "Never tell Lance that something is impossible!"
In almost two full weeks of walking, the Exodus trekking group travelled from Gourette to Luchon. Andrew has uploaded the first six  days of thirteen. Our featured picture comes from Day Three, and shows the view eastwards from the Col d'Ilheou. When you visit that page, you will see Andrew's creative use of available resources to capture a picture of a marmot. Lots of treats for lovers of mountain scenery to enjoy. We are consumed with envy. If you want more, John Scholefield walked the full length of the GR10, and for those contemplating such heroics, Eric Fèvre  and Richard van Egdom  offer advice.
Tuesday, 24 August 2004
Lives Of Screaming Exultation
CREDIT: © Russell Standring/Grenoble Cycling Pages
WHERE: L'Alpe d'Huez, France. WHAT: one of bicycle racing's great moments.
MAP: L'Alpe d'Huez. Thumbnails  pop-up larger images.
The odds against winning a big lottery are overwhelmingly poor. Every punter acknowledges that, but hope springs eternal from the more certain knowledge that every time there is a draw, somebody wins. In the grand scheme of things most of us live humble lives, untouched by events of great moment. A much deeper thinker and more profound writer than your present scribe, Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) went so far as to aver that "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."
However, just like there are lottery winners, there are always bystanders when events of significance occur. At the Tour de France 2004 stage of l'Alpe d'Huez, Russell Standring won the cycling spectators lottery. Lance Armstrong blasted up the mountain in the time trial, going so fast that he passed the second man in the overall classification, Ivan Basso, who had set off two minutes in front.
The catch happened directly in front of where Russell was standing, and he has the pictures as proof. Thoreau was born in the year that Baron Karl Drais von Sauerbronn 'invented' the first bicycle, but died before the first bicycle  races in 1868, so we assume he never screamed in exultation as bicycle racers flashed past. Le pauvre.
Monday, 23 August 2004
Reader Submissions All Time High
CREDIT: © Carmel Glover. MAP: Perth-Brisbane.
WHERE: Bosham, Sussex. WHAT: Australian visitor's pictures.
Thumbnails  and text  link pop-up larger images.
Our recent item about Bosham, England, was well received - in Australia! A reader identifying himself only as Dennis [we disallow 263 as a second name Dennis - please write again because our reply was bounced] from Perth in Western Australia, wrote to say he was born in nearby Chichester, and as a boy often rode on his bicycle to Bosham to visit his aunt. Dennis, please do not try this to visit our next correspondent, whose closeness is applicable only in the Australian sense of the word.
From 4,363 miles away, on the opposite side of the continent, Carmel Glover wrote from Brisbane in Queensland, to say she had visited Bosham as recently as the spring of this year, while touring Europe and visiting the USA to attend a conference. To our delight Carmel also sent pictures [PDF format at this link, but click the thumbnails for normal display]. With yesterday's feature of a hawk by Eduard Schwan, this surge in reader submitted contributions is very encouraging.
Hello, out there! Anybody in Athens for the men's bicycling time trial get a good picture of Hamilton, Ekimov (Go Viatcheslav!), and Julich? Please get in touch.
Sunday, 22 August 2004
A Worldwide Ornithological Élite
CREDIT: © Eduard Schwan/Personal Web Spot
WHERE: Cedar Breaks, Utah. WHAT: white morph red tail hawk.
MAP: Cedar Breaks. Thumbnail pops-up larger image.
© 2004, Eduard Schwan Pictures, all rights reserved: watermarked for identification; must not be reproduced for any purpose without the owner's written permission.
If you repair to Eduard Schwan's web site, you will find plenty of interest, but not this picture of a white morph red tail hawk, which is a world exclusive. The picture was taken on 10 August 2004 in Cedar Breaks, southern Utah. At the time Eduard was carrying a Canon GL-2 miniDV videocamera, set to still photo mode. Eduard comments, "The Canon GL-2 is a great video camera, and a not so great 1.2 megapixel digital still camera, but the optics and zoom are exceptional."
We think the content far outweighs any technical considerations for this shot.
When Eduard is not on one of his extensive jollies of one sort or another, he lives just north of San Diego in California, where he works as a computer programmer. Before we had any of our more recent contact with Eduard, we knew him as the author of a graphics program that made images into animated QuickTime movie files in the pre Roman days of Macintosh computing, named MooVer.
If that name makes sense to you as a pun, then you were probably around when certain computer operating systems still worked from a command line prompt rather than a GUI [graphical user interface]. When you visit his web site, you may check out Eduard's various obsessions, all of them safe for clean living souls, though visitors of a nervous disposition might think twice about visiting the Dragons section!
A relation of the noble bird in today's feature lives in the heart of New York City. Known as 'Pale Male', he joins an ornithological élite of world famous individual birds such as Frodo  [MS Windows blinkered web site] a denizen of downtown Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Beats watching network television, hands down.
Saturday, 21 August 2004
Visit To A Country Of The Mind
CREDIT: © This England/Joint publication web site.
WHERE: Bosham, Sussex, England. WHAT: visitor magazine article
MAP: Bosham. Thumbnails  & text  link pop-up PDF magazine pages.
Two magazines, This England and Evergreen, portray a country of the mind, though it is one that can still be observed, if only in the peripheral field of view. The front cover of the current This England issue (content may change by the time you visit) shows a guardsman in full red tunic dress uniform, replete with bearskin. Beside him two children in American sports style tops, replete with numerals, add a modern perspective. The magazine offers sample articles to encourage subscription, and from Summer 2004 edition you may visit the idyllic English country village of Bosham, which we are advised is pronounced 'Bozzum'.
Clicking the left hand thumbnail will take you to the first page of the article, and the right hand thumbnail to the second page. The pages show today's featured pictures: the harbor, and Holy Trinity Church. You may read the history of the village, including its connection with King Canute, whose egoism has been much exaggerated.
Friday, 20 August 2004
Longcases With Historical Links
CREDIT: © John Blaylock/Personal home page
WHERE: Longtown, Cumbria, England. WHAT: Blaylock clock & watch making dynasty.
MAPS: Longtown. Thumbnail pops-up source page with larger image.
Longtown sits by the River Esk, close to the English Border with Scotland. Like many towns, before the Industrial Revolution ended distributed manufacturing as economies of scale became predominant, Longtown had its own local clock and watch making family business. The dynasty was founded by the first John Blaylock (1736-1803), who was living in nearby Carlisle when Bonnie Prince Charlie's army took the city. An early Blaylock clock, probably from around 1767, is our feature picture for today. See it on The Blaylock Clockmakers of Longtown & Carlisle in the Old County of Cumberland, England, a web site authored by another John Blaylock, resident of Derby in Derbyshire, England, where the Prince's army began its retreat northwards.
The later John Blaylock is a non-professional horologist and Associate Member of the British Horological Institute. He made another longcase clock, whose movement won first prize in the 1995 British Horological Institute competition for hand made clocks. The resonances between the two clocks gave us chills: we think they would make a fine pair displayed together. This is one of those web sites where the author's enthusiasm makes the subject compelling, even for non specialists.
For some 19th century Longtown local history, culled from the now defunct Carlisle Journal (1801-1968) and Carlisle Patriot (1815-1910) newspapers, we recommend a visit to Bridget Casson's web site. We remember watching the Journal being printed, in the days before independent voices were routinely stifled, or sold their souls to Citizen Kane. Bridget will also take you on a photographic tour of Longtown and District. The Arthuret Parish Council web site represents the modern activities of the town.
Thursday, 19 August 2004
Winter Walk Around The Mumbles
CREDIT: © Alex Thomas/Personal web site
WHERE: Mumbles, Swansea, Wales. WHAT: walking by the sea.
MAP: Mumbles. Thumbnail  and text  link pop-up larger images.
Walking by the sea is so bracing, especially in South Wales in January! The featured picture in today's thumbnail is the Mumbles Head lighthouse, which was built in 1794 to warn ships of the dangers of nearby Mixon Shoal. The picture was taken by Alex Thomas, just a couple of weeks into 2004, from the eastern side of Bracelet Bay. From the sultry August heat of the High Desert Southwest of the USA, hoping an electrical storm might clear the air, this looks so inviting.
One of the pictures Alex took on his walk caught our eye: we liked the contrasting styles and colors of the two blocks of buildings. We cropped the image tightly to enhance the effect. We hope Alex will forgive us for experimenting with his images. Visit Alex to enjoy this walk, and other trips out and about in the area.
Wednesday, 18 August 2004
World Beneath The Paving Stones
CREDIT: © Kurt Wenner/KurtWenner.com
WHERE: Mantua, Italy. WHAT: pavement artist extraordinary.
MAP: Mantua (Mantova). Thumbnail pops-up larger image.
To say Kurt Wenner is a pavement artist is a bit like saying Lance Armstrong rides a bike, or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote tunes, albeit that "there are simply too many notes". Some people thought Kurt's work so incredible that there is even a 'true' entry on Snopes, the urban legends web site more renowned for its 'false' warnings. In the first Snopes example, it is difficult to believe the image is drawn on a flat surface; a powerful illusion, without a point of reference.
From Kurt's own gallery section, for today's thumbnail feature picture we chose the headline item 'Dies Irae' from 'Street Painting and Public Events'. If you walk around, please be careful not to step on any fingers! [Thanks to Eric Shackle for the lead.]
Tuesday, 17 August 2004
Early USA Bicycle Making Center
CREDIT: © Dave's Vintage Bicycles/Nostalgic.net
WHERE: Chicopee Falls, MA, USA. WHAT: A.G. Spalding & Bros. bicycle makers.
MAP: Chicopee, Springfield, MA. Thumbnail pops-up larger image.
During a recent foray into bicycle history, occasioned by a memory of our own cycling past, we visited once again the Nostalgic.net web site, which is a web presence for Dave's Vintage Bicycles. Shunning the searchable database (Codd's Rules being more often honored in the breach than the observance - no offence intended to Chad Yates, Dave Stromberger, or Greg Armstrong) we slavered as we read down the index of entries. Gadzooks! An 1895 Spalding!
American readers will be familiar with Spalding, a big name to this day in baseball equipment, footballs (the oval one handed variety), golf equipment, or even the pink and smelly Spalding High-Bounce Ball, known as a 'Spaldeen'. Others, let us say those whose birth date scrapes into the second half of the twentieth century even if only by a whisker, may remember riding Spalding bicycles in their youth. Regular readers may recall the 1897 Spalding military model issued to the Buffalo Soldiers for their astounding 1,900 miles on a journey from Missoula, MT, to St. Louis, MO.
Monday, 16 August 2004
Right Place And Decisive Moment
CREDIT: © [image] Stu Levy/Sailboat & Shadow © [page] AfterImageGallery.com
WHERE: Golden Gate Bridge, California, USA. WHAT: sailboat and bridge shadow.
MAP: San Francisco. Thumbnail click pops-up source web page.
Stu Levy is a family practice physician from Portland, Oregon. His medical qualifications are less relevant to his appearance here than his practical photographic experience working with Ansel Adams, and his dedicated work as a devotee of Minor White and Eliot Porter. The featured picture is entitled Sailboat and Shadow (Golden Gate Bridge #176) from the AfterImageGallery.com web site. Stu's work may also be found at:  S.K. Josefsberg Studio, a business that has now closed as a gallery, but retains online exhibitions;  SeeingLight.com; and  Scheinbaum & Russek in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with an online gallery.
Several public collections hold examples of this artist's work, and private dealer Thomas V. Meyer will be happy to sell you a fine art      print to add to your collection. You may read references to Stu's work with grid montages, and in addition to the Josefsberg Studio examples, there is another on the PAO [Photography At Oregon] web site. We recently featured Martin Parr, who works in a comparable way, and British painter David Hockney has done similar photographic projects. We plan to bring together examples of this type of exhibit in a forthcoming feature.
Sunday, 15 August 2004
This Man Changed The Way We See
CREDIT: © Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum HCB Retrospective
WHERE: France & worldwide. WHAT: one of the all time greats of photography.
Thumbnails  pop-up source pages.
It is hard to imagine any meaningful listing of the world's greatest photographers that did not include Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004). HCB died earlier this month, on 03 August, at his home in the department of Luberon, France. The Magnum cooperative, of which he was one of the founder members, is running a retrospective [349 images], and showing a family album [40 images].
Analytical commentary seems superfluous, so we just chose five pictures that we thought had changed the way we see the world after viewing them over the years. One of them, even after hundreds of sightings, is still a powerful visual enigma wrapped in a trompe d'oeil mystery. Whittling the selection down, to say 348, was not too hard, and getting down to 5 was easy, about 1,000 times over.
Regrets, we had a few, but finally the Irish horse was the hardest to reject, along with the other 343 that we were unable to show. Some personal favorites are missing, too: where has that boy gone? Check the Peter Fetterman Gallery.
Saturday, 14 August 2004
Omelette Makers Use Broken Eggs
CREDIT: © Martin Parr/Tate Modern
WHERE: Britain 1995-1998 WHAT: photographic social commentary.
NOTE: both thumbnails pop-up the same source web page.
Martin Parr's photography is hard for some people to understand, let alone appreciate or enjoy. More specifically, when Parr applied to become a member of Magnum, founder Henri Cartier-Bresson publicly articulated his objection, though he was not qualified to vote, so Parr scraped through to enter the elite group. Given the iconoclastic nature of the work, perhaps HCB disapproval is a recommendation.
Parr does work on the edge; a place of shifting values that offers opportunities to experimental artists. It is a place where if you are not failing, you are not succeeding either. Check out the careers of the great comedians whose work has pushed the conventional envelope a little. So when we say we can point to individual Parr images that we think are dismal failures, we mean no disrespect.
Another difficulty when assessing Parr images, is that they operate in parallel, intended to be seen in context as part of the whole. Today's thumbnail pair comes from a set entitled 'Common Sense', showcased on the Tait Modern web site; when we checked out Parr's own web site, the two images were not in the set of that name. We hope that isolating this pair meets with Parr approval.
Perhaps they are from a book version using same name. In that medium, the photographer's method was to assemble recto & verso pairs, and then sequence them into a visual narrative. A visit to the MartinParr.com web site is recommended before even beginning to form an opinion. For visitors able to handle RealOne files, the Tate Modern carries a video interview, in which Parr explains the way he works.
Friday, 13 August 2004
Rough Ride, But It Beat Walking!
CREDIT: © Northern Rockies Heritage Center/NRHC.org
WHERE: Missoula, Montana, USA. WHAT: buffalo soldiers bicycle corps.
MAP: Missoula. Thumbnail pops-up source web page.
In 1866 an act of Congress created six exclusively African American army units. Their soubriquet buffalo soldiers comes from a respectful 1867 Cheyenne nickname, meaning 'wild buffalo'. Consistent with the social milieu of the day, the buffalo soldiers drew some harsh postings. One unit, the 25th Infantry, did get to go bicycle touring, however. That is not a sardonic turn of phrase: twenty participants were selected from forty volunteers, five veterans of previous rides.
There were downsides: lack of paved roads, and sometimes no roads at all; heavy bicycles weighed down with rations, equipment, or supplies; and no sag wagon. In 1897 from 14 June to 24 July, commanded by Lt. James A. Moss, they cycled 1,900 miles from their Fort Missoula, Montana, base to St. Louis, Missouri. Given the equipment and conditions, an average of fifty six miles per day, for each of the thirty four days spent on the 'road', seems an amazing achievement. The return journey was by train, which must have been something of a relief.
There are several web resources covering the men and their journey: the resources we thought excelled were NRHC.org for the picture featured here, and the detailed article by Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer, written for American History magazine. Some of the accounts are at odds with themselves and one another, but Schmitzer seemed consistent and coherent. The facts given are from the 'Wheels of War' article.
Thursday, 12 August 2004
Lake District Choice Of Raptors
CREDIT: © Tony Richards/LakelandCAM.co.uk
WHERE: Elterwater, English Lake District. WHAT: buzzards and eagles.
MAP: Elterwater. Thumbnail pops-up larger image.
Since we last featured a picture from Tony Richards at LakelandCAM.co.uk he has reported some camera hardware woes after a change of brand. There seems to be no problem with this shot. Breeding eagles may be seen occasionally in the English Lake District, but our own favorite resident raptor has always been the buzzard. In some places they are frequently seen, and watching them hunting in pairs over recently logged terrain was always a delight.
The mournful 'peeee-ow' call of the buzzard is second only to the piping of the curlew in evoking memories of those distant lands. Here in southwest Utah, large hawks circle on the thermals created by the mesas and bluffs, though we have yet to hear mewing or any other sound they might make. Perhaps American birds of prey are less strident than their European counterparts, though experience suggests this is unlikely.
Wednesday, 11 August 2004
Honking On Bobo - Dinosaur Style
CREDIT: © Luis V. Rey/Dinosaurs & Paleontology Art Gallery
WHERE: China. WHAT: lambeosaurine hadrosaur named Charonosaurus.
Thumbnail [T] and text links  pop-up source pages.
During preparation of yesterdays hadrosaur item, we visited Luis V. Rey's Dinosaurs & Paleontology Art Gallery. Luis has an illustration of a Chinese lambeosaurine hadrosaur named Charonosaurus, after Charon the ferryman on the mythological River Styx. China has been the source of much new fossil information, including Baby Louie in yesterday's item, and Luis has two  pages devoted to that area.
The album Honkin' on Bobo was a recent Aerosmith release, the name said to be an old bluesmen's expression for forte harmonica playing. Reading the description of Charonosaurus' capabilities we thought it may have been capable of drowning out even hugely amplified bad boys Steven Tyler and Aerosmith. That may be a good or bad thing, depending on your taste in music, and dinosaurs too.
Tuesday, 10 August 2004
Hadrosaur: Duck Billed Dinosaur
CREDIT: © Charlie & Florence Magovern/StoneCompany.com
WHERE: Big Water, Utah. WHAT: dinosaur fossils.
MAP: GSENM. Thumbnail  and text  link pop-up larger images.
Last weekend in Big Water, Utah, the BLM [Bureau of Land Management] presented some recent paleontologic finds from the nearby Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument [GSENM]. The Utah Geological Survey online publication 'Survey Notes' for January 2001 [1.4Mb PDF format file] provides a good introduction to fossil discoveries in the area. We were particularly interested in the recent fossil hadrosaur, otherwise known as the duck billed dinosaur.
We visited Charlie & Florence Magovern at their StoneCompany.com web site, where they have a range of museum quality dinosaur egg replicas. On the hadrosaur page you may see today's feature  picture and a close up  image. For a look into the Magoverns' world we recommend the Baby Louie story in the 'Hatch' section of a National Geographic Dinosaur Eggs online presentation, .
Monday, 09 August 2004
Prithee Pray For Me Brown Mantid
CREDIT: © Ian Scott-Parker/CAMwrangler.com
WHERE: southwest Utah, USA. WHAT: insect of the genus Stagmomantis.
Thumbnail pops-up larger image.
In addition to the Black Widow spider and Paper wasps that have visited, we also see the occasional mantid (or mantis). This one was bigger than we have seen before, about three inches in length, probably because at this time of year they are full grown. We checked DesertUSA.com for a general guide. The mantid's color may not be a good species guide because they vary somewhat even within the same scientific classification, so we do not venture a guess
There are about two thousand species of mantids worldwide, not a creature we ever saw wild in the Sceptered Isles because they prefer warmer climes, but we recommend the MantisUK.com web site in Britain for identification of some of the major species. We read one caution that only the European Mantis religiosa should be referred to as a praying mantid, though they all seem to do so and are widely known as such making it unreliable as a narrow definition.
They are known to be cannibalistic, and the female biting off the mate's head during reproduction is often mentioned anecdotally. This seems to happen less when the couple is undisturbed, and is thought to be a survival tactic by the female to speed up the reproductive act. They are also the only insect capable of head turning effected by articulated joints. Recent evidence has identified the mantid's ability to sense the ultra sonic signals from bats, which are its main predator. For some really close up pictures of a mantid, we visited the All-Creatures.org web site, an organization with a definite stance on the human-animal relationship.
One web site suggested that eye contact may be made with mantids. The trick is to approach very slowly, going as close as possible without scaring the creature. It was claimed that the mantid would then slowly turn its head, making eye contact. The effect was said to be spooky. We have been unable to make it happen: this mantid must be on shifty business, because it refuses to look us straight in the eye!
Sunday, 08 August 2004
A Look At Clouds From Both Sides
CREDIT: © Ann Bowker/Mad About Mountains
WHERE: English Lake District. WHAT: cloud base at mountain top height.
MAP: Lingmell. Thumbnail pops-up scrollable, resizeable window.
Mountain walking when passing in and out of the cloud base can be great fun. This panorama was taken from Lingmell, in the high ground at the center of the English Lake District, by Ann Bowker for her Mad About Mountains web site. The full set of pictures is available, but content may change by the time you visit. Check out the archive for Book 4: The Southern Fells if trying to track down the Lingmell set for 06 August 2004. We have pre configured the panorama for normal monitors when clicking on the thumbnail, but it is also available for larger or studio monitors.
Saturday, 07 August 2004
Smaller, Slower, Cheaper Breezer
CREDIT: © Joe Breeze/BreezerBikes.com
WHERE: the future. WHAT: the Joe Breeze vision.
NOTE: ALL thumbnails pop-up the same source page.
You may never have heard of Joe Breeze, but most people will have heard the expression mountain bike. Joe made the first one. There are other claimants, but we are not talking prototypes and development models here, we are talking production models. That's an up to date Joe in the middle picture shining the light, and a younger Joe on his bicycle, doing a slide back when mountain biking was something new.
The other images are historically relevant for Joe's speaking tours, and worth a closer look because some of those thumbnails are heavily cropped to fit the strip format. All five pictures come from Joe's own web site at BreezerBikes.com where you will find a bicycle advocacy initiative named 'Healthy Transportation Choices Now'. Joe lives the lifestyle, sells the bicycles, and peddles the vision. Do not just listen to Joe, but check out some press  coverage, too. With all the doom and gloom around in the media, treat yourself to a first class optimistic read. This stuff is happening now, on a cycleway near you. Ding! Ding! Coming through!
Friday, 06 August 2004
Bigger, Faster, More Expensive!
CREDIT: © Charles Winpenny/CornwallCAM.com
WHERE: Truro, Cornwall. WHAT: first locomotive to reach 100 mph
MAP: Truro. Thumbnail pops-up larger image.
As children, and even now in retrospect, we thought one of the more risible adult imprecations was, "You will be killed if you ever try to cross the railway!" Trains were relatively slow given the long sight lines; they were easily audible and visible; and their progress was highly predictable. There is a theory that such risks exist to improve the gene pool, though this test clearly sets the bar too low to be useful.
We thought the only real danger was to misjudge which set of rails an approaching train was using. This risk was easily overcome by standing well clear of any set of rails when a train approached. Duh! The grown up harbingers of doom, who we supposed got that way by never crossing railway tracks, seemed unaware of the very real dangers that existed crossing roads. Cars and trucks appeared from nowhere; their progress was totally unpredictable; and most of them seemed to be driven by the infirm, the insane, or the inebriated. So we walked to school alone at age six.
The difference was the Green Cross Code, a mantra that if repeated often enough ensured invulnerability. That started life as, "Look right, look left, look right again!" (translate handedness for your jurisdiction), but we know what happens when the bureaucrats become involved. The biggest downside to crossing the railway, and later to puffing dope, was that it was considered WRONG and BAD and was therefore ILLEGAL, with heavy penalties if one was caught.
A glance at some modern train speeds will quickly convince all but the most foolhardy that times have changed. Now everywhere is dangerous - even lying in bed, where one may assume arterial blockages are insidiously building at excessively high speeds. Perhaps it is time for a transport revolution, though bigger, faster, and more expensive hardly seems to be the sensible way to go. That maglev ['magnetic levitation' - the thing does not even have wheels!] two train closing speed of 627 mph seems to us to be a disaster looking for somewhere to happen.
Charles Winpenny from CornwallCAM.co.uk took the picture of the train named City of Truro and numbered 2,000, when she visited her namesake town. In 1904 the City of Truro was the first locomotive to reach 100 mph in service. That record was unofficial, and the Flying Scotsman holds the official record, set in 1934. In 1938 the Mallard established the record at 126 mph causing a big end to overheat.
That should have been a warning that maybe it was time to concentrate on comfort, reliable timetables, and more frequent trains, but these things sometimes take on a life of their own. Britain fell way behind in train speed records, though catch-up is now in progress, leaving the French TGV [Train à Grande Vitesse] and Japanese Shinkansen [often called Bullet Trains, but the translation is a more prosaic 'new trunk line'] competing between each other for the record.
Thursday, 05 August 2004
All The Fun Of The Vintage Fair
CREDIT: © Darren Hoyle/CheshireCAM.co.uk
WHERE: Buglawton, near Congleton, England. WHAT: vintage fair.
MAP: Congleton. NB: ALL thumbnails pop-up the same source image gallery.
Any web page that can field heavy horses, owls, and a traction engine, gets our attention. Darren Hoyle's Classic Iron Gallery on CheshireCAM.co.uk managed just that on a visit to Buglawton Vintage Fair near Congleton [aerial view courtesy of a local info site BearTown, Congleton's alternative shame name]. There is plenty to see on the web site as Darren roves around his home county, and further afield, where we enjoyed his North Wales visits. There are so many interesting CAM web sites to see these days that we often find ourselves forgetting to visit… hmmm! Maybe we should do something about that problem. Meanwhile, the CheshireCAM.co.uk web site is in the 'UK CAM links' pulldown menu in the page sidebar. Enjoy your visit!
Wednesday, 04 August 2004
A World Tour Of Carlisle Castle
CREDIT: © Owen Ewart/OwenEwart.com
WHERE: Carlisle, England. WHAT: tour of the ancient town.
MAP: Carlisle. Thumbnails  and text  link pop-up larger images.
As cities go, Carlisle, England, is something of a newcomer, becoming by area the largest city in England on April Fools Day 1974. The Romans were there almost two thousand years before, and after them the Normans, who were really red haired Viking administrators, but without silly helmets. Those adopted Frenchmen were the ones who created the core of the city we know today, by building a  castle in 1092 AD and a  cathedral in 1122 AD, the two buildings that put the stamp of continental gravitas on so many British medieval towns. Tourists are the latest invaders of the city, not least among them the redoubtable Owen Ewart.
Taking small boys on cultural expeditions can be fraught with danger: the last time we did so, a trade for a following day of paint balling had to be negotiated. Arming the natives to keep the peace has a very poor record in the annals of history, but on that occasion it worked. Owen's World Tour of Carlisle Castle seems to have been a rip roaring success. The party made their way around the old heart of the city, now bisected by a modern inner city traffic relief road for which no millennium foot bridge could ever really be adequate compensation. Refreshment stops, and a trampoline session, were probably the Tourist version of bread and circuses to preempt any potential for rebellion. A great day out if you ever visit the city.
Not every hero gets to stand on the podium. In the recent 2004 edition of the Tour de France, Thomas Voekler fought off inevitable defeat like a true hero, cresting the Pyrenean climb of Plateau de Beille to retain the race leader's yellow jersey, for the following day and as far as the Alps. By the time the race reached Paris, Voekler had even lost the under-25 white jersey competition to Vladimir Karpets, but did show his colors and grinta around the final laps of the Champs Élysée. A champion can only be a hero by earning respect while winning, but the greatest of these is respect.
Now where were we going with this… oh, yes! Sometimes when we make the final picture selection there are images that do not make the cut, but are never the less worthy. We remember George MacDonald Fraser, author of 'Steel Bonnets' and the 'Flashman' series, being interviewed for the 'Debateable Lands' presentation, filmed in the inner keep of Carlisle's castle: a window onto the old town was the background. The metaphor was about power and oversight, which was visually evocative and semiologically powerful. Ladies and Gentlemen! Your appreciation please, for today's winner of the Thomas Voekler Award for best picture not on the podium.
Tuesday, 03 August 2004
Frances & Elsie Both Saw Fairies
CREDITS:© Margaret Krupa/CottingleyConnect.org.uk
© The Cottingley Network/Cottingley.net
WHERE: Cottingley, Yorkshire, England. WHAT: photographic fairy hoax.
MAP: Cottingley. AERIAL: large photo [431KBs]
Thumbnail  and text  links pop-up source pages.
"…and there are fairies at the bottom of our garden!" was at one time a colloquialism equivalent to "Pull the other one!", used when hearing someone's tall story. The reference is to one of the crudest yet most successful photographic hoaxes ever perpetrated, the real life Cottingley Fairies case. A photographic prank by two young women, Frances Griffiths and her cousin Elsie Wright, took in many prominent people post WWI, including 'Sherlock Holmes' author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was many years before the perpetrator's confession revealed the truth. A convincing example of people believing what they want to believe.
If you just want an overview, then the MuseumOfHoaxes.com web site has one that includes the pictures, and Chris Willis has one with more details, and references [Geoffrey Hodson working link for Chris's broken one] for further research.
The village of Cottingley has two web sites telling the fairy story: few places of a similar size can claim to be so well served on the web. Margaret Krupa's web site, Cottingley Connect, features the story of the Fairies with the five      famous pictures. The Gnome picture [scroll down] is shown hand colored by the subject… Elsie Wright that is: for those whose attention may have wandered - the gnome was a hoax! The Cottingley Network adds background information, so we recommend a visit to both sites, both of which are detailed and well laid out.
Monday, 02 August 2004
Blue Moon Did You Really Shine?
CREDIT: © Ginger Mayfield/Ginger Mayfield's Homepage
WHERE: Colorado, but a worldwide phenomenon. WHAT: the Blue Moon.
Thumbnails  pop-up larger source site images. NB: for copyright reasons, larger images appear at their original size from the source web site.
It seems likely that we know more about the Moon orbiting our planet than at any other time in human history. That holds good for the people who study the Moon, but it seems that the PLUs [People Like Us] have become less aware of lunar cycles as we became more independent of their influence, at least in directly experienced ways.
At the simplest level, if the light of the full Moon is not needed to travel at night, then why bother to track the occasions when the light will be available? The development of the concept of a 'blue' Moon provides an interesting parallel with the 'dumbing down' of scientific knowledge, and how this can lead to the inaccurate transmission of concepts, and even the hijacking of the data on which they are predicated.
The SkyAndTelescope.com web site has two articles:  'Once in a Blue Moon' by Philip Hiscock gets the ball rolling; and  'What's a Blue Moon?' by Donald W. Olson, Richard Tresch Fienberg, and Roger W. Sinnott, rounds out the story. Those needing an executive summary [sigh] may prefer this InfoPlease.com page. A more data centric summary is available from the InconstantMoon.com web site. Any of those links will make you an instant expert in the watering hole of your choice.
So was the Moon that rose clear and bright above the Hurricane Fault, as we lay in the editorial bed last Saturday night, a Blue Moon? Olson, Fienberg, and Sinnott suggest, "Rather than argue over whether to celebrate the dawn of the new millennium on January 1st in 2000 or 2001, those with the sunniest outlooks will celebrate twice. Why not treat Blue Moons the same way, marking both the second full Moon in a calendar month and the third full Moon in a season with four?" We will drink to that! The next time someone at an embassy party mentions the Blue Moon, we might even raise a quizzical eyebrow to enquire, "Type One or Type Two, old chap?"
For Blue Moon pictures we went to Ginger Mayfield's pages on DCA [Digital Camera Astrophotography] web site. To our delight, Ginger has a great  pictorial Blue Moon of 31 January 1999 and a three  image record from 31 July 2004. Visitors with an astronomical interest will no doubt need little encouragement to spend time exploring all the various astronomy pages.
The PLUs will find plenty of wider interest, however, and we suggest the General and Scenic sections, where you may even find the Blue Moon of the 10 April 2003, which really looks blue, if you search diligently. Two images that caught our eye as tempting samples were the Milky Way, and a yard bear. All we ever had at the bottom of our garden were fairies - but more of that tomorrow.
Sunday, 01 August 2004
Star Lovers Long Ago & Far Away
CREDIT: © James R. Lowe/Dumboozle.com
WHERE: early twentieth century Paris. WHAT: French music hall
Thumbnail pops-up larger image from source web site.
To round out our recent coverage of English music hall (Marie Lloyd) and American vaudeville (Sally Rand) into a trilogy, today we feature two stars of the French music hall. The thumbnail picture shows Mistinguette (1875-1956) and Maurice Chevalier (1888-1972), who performed together as a duo at the Folies-Bergère [a French language site, included for the Visite Virtuel] in Paris, and were long time lovers. We are once again indebted to James R. Lowe at Dumboozle.com (The Popular Culture Excavation Site) for both the image and his web page on Mistinguette. For information about Chevalier we consulted the Maurice Chevalier web site.
NB: the Visite Virtuelle Java applet may not render correctly in some browsers. If this is the case, click in the bottom right hand area of the window, to load the menu with four location selections within the Folies-Bergère club.
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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)