Monday, December 28, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Monday, December 07, 2009
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.
While living in Burkina Faso and later Senegal Sheri and I really didn't come across much wildlife. Afer all, cattle and goats were too valuable to permit lions to roam around free. There were too many farms, too.
While visiting the National park of Po in Burkina Faso, on the Ghana, border with the forestry students, we came across this herd of elephants by the side of the road. Another instructor, Ben Bastyr, and I approached the herd with our cameras. We crouched low and took pictures. The mothers in the herd became restless as they had baby elephants with them. When we only had a few shots left we both stood up to get a final picture. As I clicked this female came after us trumpeting and flapping her ears. I have never run so fast in my life to get back to the side of the road. The students said that was the fastest they had ever seen a toubab run, too.
Fortunately, we later learned that the ditch between us and the herd saved us from attack. Also, if this were more than a warning she would never have trumpeted, just attacked. (1982 or 1983)
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
In the introduction Pevear says that Tolstoy wanted to write a book about domestic life, a book without a lot of action in the plot. He certainly succeeded. Aside from Anna's death there are few outwardly dramatic events. Yet, we really see into the emotional lives of the characters and can identify with them.
For example, I expected to dislike Karenin intensely. Instead I felt very sorry for him. If he weren't such an emotional cripple maybe he could have held on to Anna. When he begins to love Anna's illegitimate daughter I felt he was at his best. It makes him even more pitiable when he later falls under the influence of Princess Irina and loses all possibility of becoming a genuine person.
Levin was a fabulous character. He is so contradictory and torn. He is so hard on himself that he makes his life extremely difficult. It is easy to see how much of himself Tolstoy put into Levin. I liked how in the end Levin decides that he just has to live as much as he can. He decides to perserve through the contradictions of his lack of faith and need to pray when faced with a crisis. That's just how life is.
I will definitely reread this book again, maybe in a year or two.
Originally uploaded by The Library of Congress.
Thanksgiving with a social conscience in 1904; hunters, well-off people, and beggars.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
One summer (in the mid 1960's?), while we were living on Willow Street, Dad decided he wanted to build a waterfall on the lawn. That house was perched on the side of a hill, with the lawn being a series of terraces with rather steep banks. That lot had no flat ground at all.
The waterfall was designed with a lower reservoir and an upper reservoir connected by a waterway with stones to create rapids. The whole thing was made with concrete. It took a lot of digging. At that age I thought we would never be done! Back then there was no Reddi-mix. We had to mix the concrete on site after hauling the sand, gravel and cement up with the wheelbarrow!
Eventually everything was finished. With the pump plugged in we had a burbling brook at our command. I don’t know what happened to the waterfall when we moved. Maybe we just filled it in with dirt?
Another summer Dad got what must have been a small concrete septic tank that was set into the hillside at the top of the walk to the house. (Dad must have been working at W.E. Cloutier’s at the time.) We painted it pink (a mixture of old paint?). It was big enough to hold a couple of goldfish.
Soon one of the fish got so big we named him Moby Dick. I remember searching the lawn to look for grasshoppers to feed him. He would come right up to the surface of the water, grab his bug and head below to enjoy his meal.
He was pretty tough, too. Once we came home from swimming and found Moby Dick on the grass. We got there in time. He revived soon after being placed back in the water. We never knew if he jumped out or if someone had malevolently taken him out.
Things didn’t turn out well for Moby Dick in the end. He was spending winter in one of the kitchen sinks. Accidentally, Dad spilled some bleach into Moby Dick’s side when he was sterilizing his dentures. The poor fish didn’t last long after that.
Below are some pictures of my current fish facilities.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.
Just before sunset the sun descended below the clouds to illuminate everything with this golden light. The photography books always say dawn and dusk are the magic times. Here the trees across the old nursery property at Penn State Mont Alto are illuminated with the summit of Mont Alto in the background.
This walnut tree shows up in high relief.
The historical markers glow in the last light.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Monday, November 02, 2009
Today I hiked out on Bricker Trail in the Michaux Forest near campus with a class learning how to use GPS.
The Penn National development is continuing its expansion along the forest boundary, although it is slower now because of the economic downturn. There are many vacant lots ready along the roads. The new homeowners are getting a fabulous view of the hills behind them and great access to hiking trails in the forest.
However, it will change the character of the forest. No one wants to see a timber harvesting operation behind their home. And hunters will be forced back from the forest boundary as the homes are built. I guess that's progress?
Sunday, November 01, 2009
Wikipedia describes how the sitar is able to produce the sounds and overtones:
The sitar's curved frets are movable, allowing fine tuning, and raised so that sympathetic strings (tarbs, also known as "tarif" or "tarifdar") can run underneath them. A sitar can have 21, 22 or 23 strings, among them six or seven played strings which run over the frets: the Gandhar-pancham sitar (used by Vilayat Khan and his disciples) has six playable strings, whereas the Kharaj-pancham sitar, used in the Maihaar gharana (Ravi Shankar), has seven. Three of these (or four on a Kharaj-pancham sitar), called the chikari, simply provide a drone: the rest are used to play the melody, though the first string (baj tar) is most used.
The instrument has two bridges; the large bridge (bada goraj) for the playing and drone strings and the small bridge (chota goraj) for the sympathetic strings. Its timbre results from the way the strings interact with the wide, sloping bridge. As a string reverberates its length changes slightly as its edge touches the bridge, promoting the creation of overtones and giving the sound its distinctive, tone. The maintenance of this specific tone by shaping the bridge is called jawari. Many musicians rely on instrument makers to adjust this.We only heard it played for a few enchanting minutes. I am tempted to look up music from Ravi Shankar and find music from other masters. Would it be enjoyable to listen to for a whole CD?
Friday, October 30, 2009
Surprisingly the same scene is also on Google Maps and you can drive up the road.
View Larger Map
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Friday, October 09, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
I just finished reading Pieces of Time: the life of James Stewart by Gary Fishgall. This is not an intimate biography, meaning I always felt that Stewart was far away in the story. You only really see the public Jimmy Stewart, although the author does share letters and reminiscences. This may be because Stewart was a very open, straightforward person. He never had any dark secrets hidden away. In parts, the description of movie after movie did get a little boring.
On the other hand, the book is very well written. There were many fascinating stories about Jimmy Stewart who become the most beloved movie star in the USA. I particularly enjoyed the telling of Stewart’s lifelong friendship with Henry Fonda. They met in New York in the 1930’s and roomed together both in New York and in Hollywood. Yet their politics were so different that they once started brawling. To remain friends they resolved never to discuss politics again. (Stewart was a conservative Republican and Fonda a democrat.)
Stewart was an authentic hero, who rose from private to colonel in WWII while flying bombers over Europe. He also served many years in the Air Force reserve.
Although he was considered a playboy in his early years as an actor, there was no hint of scandal around Jimmy Stewart. After the war he married and enjoyed a nearly forty year marriage. There was no sign of an intense struggle of the soul. He was always known as a humble person, an actor's actor who was an expert in his craft.
I was interested, too in Stewart’s PA connection. He came from Indiana, PA and went to school at Mercersburg Academy, not far from where I live.All in all, Fishgall wrote an excellent book. It makes me want to go out and see some Jimmy Stewart movies, from any part of his long career.
Follow this link to the Librarything entry for the book.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.
I saw this in the pet department at my local Walmart. I knew that you can have the remains of dead pets cremated. I never thought to keep the ashes in an urn!
Friday, September 18, 2009
As the gardening season winds down the marigolds seem to be perking up. They are especially bright at sunset!
This entry is written on the new Windows Live Writer. I was intrigued by the photo album tool. The photos are actually stored in my Windows Live account. I like the album options.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
This is an extremely interesting and readable book. It's not very long, either. Greenhouse is very gifted at explaining complex legal arguments in understandable terms. In parts, the book is a real page-turner.
I was impressed at how much Blackmun changed over time. He really grew as a person and in his understanding of the law. Since justices serve for have and have been serving even longer on the court, no president can expect that the justice he appoints today will stay the same over the years. When a problem gets to the Supreme Court it is often beyond the mechanism of the law, although that is vitally important. The justices have to get creative when there is no easy answer.
I was surprised that Blacmun's most famous opinion, Roe vs Wade, was not written primarily to protect women. It was designed to protect doctors as they worked with women to come up with the best treatment. It was only later that Blackmun became a champion of women's rights.
The demise of the friendship between Chief Justice Burger and Blackmun was one of the sadder parts of the book. Yet, it would have been almost impossible for them to retain their friendship given their different roles on the court and evolving points of view.
After reading this book, I will certainly never think of the Supreme Court the same way again.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
This was the first time I used the chicken grilling rack I got for Father's Day. Thanks, Bri. I put beer in the can in the center. It did add some flavor to the chicken. The popup thermometer on the chicken didn't work. I ended up using an insertable thermometer to check doneness. Our grill has four burners. I lit only two and put the chicken over the two unlit. Towards the end I put the chicken in the middle and lit the two outer burners. I think I will do it that way from the start to make the skin evenly browned. This is a great way to cook a whole bird on the grill.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
I really enjoyed visiting the vehicles participating in the Transcontinental Motor Convoy reenactment this evening, even with the menacing thunderstorms. There was only one a couple of vehicles that could have come from 1919. The rest were from WWII and later wars. It was interesting the modern transport vehicles that had seen service in Iraq and been refurbished at Letterkenny.
There were many veterans in the crowd, many obviously lost in reminiscences. These were the vehicles used by all the soldiers, from privates to generals. It seemed more intimate than jets and ships that are purely military with no civilian uses.
It must have taken hundreds of hours for these vehicles to be restored. The people doing the work were as dedicated as any Civil War reenactors in Gettysburg. Maybe you have to be a little nutty, too, to spend all that money.
Here is a Wikepedia article on the original convoy. Surprisingly, the official website for the convoy is password protected! But this press release from the MVPA gives the important details.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to drive an alumni group to visit Gettysburg. We took a shuttle bus from the new information (spacious and fantastic) to the farm home of President Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower, and his wife Mamie bought the house and farm in 1950. They pretty much rebuilt the whole building. The original house was too far gone to re-use. Photography is allowed inside, but it is too dark to get good shots. The above picture is the outside front entrance.
This guest house was made from the previous owner's garage. The bell came from a local school house. The story we were told by the guide was that Gen. "Monty" Montgomery, who had clashed often with Ike during WWII, stayed here during his visit instead of sleeping in the guest bedroom in the main house.
The house is big and very comfortable inside. I was expecting something bigger and grander. I suppose the Eisenhowers didn't really have that much money. After years of military housing this house and farm must have seemed grand. The 1950's era furniture and appointments made the house seem very old fashioned today. The furnishings made me think of Sheri's grandmother's house. She never had it remodeled in her later years. The home is definitely worth a visit. Check out the official site.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Frankie and Elmo went to the veteraniarian yesterday for a dental cleaning. At their last checkup their teeth had a lot of crud built up. Fortunately, neither of them had to have teeth pulled. Cats have to be sedated for a teeth cleaning. It's just like a surgical operation. They were very groggy when they came home. They walked like drunks for the first few hourse. As cats get holder, and both are over 10 years, anesthesia becomes more risky. They have a harder time recovering. Fortunately, they are back to their old habits of sleeping in the sun and enjoying life! We may cut down on the wet food to help keep their teeth clean in the future!
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
My dilemma is: should I keep up my subscription? I still enjoy getting the magazine each month. The photography is still fantastic. I find that I don't have enough time to read as many of the articles as I used to. Also, I am getting a little annoyed that each issue is mostly about global warming. Not all the problems in the world can or should be blamed on global warming. Maybe there are other problems more immediate to deal with. I hope the editors of National Geographic try to branch out a bit in the future. I am paid up for the rest of 2009. We will see about 2010.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Wikipedia article on skunk cabbage.
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.
Is this facility out of place? This new latrine was installed at Mont Alto State Park last fall causing an uproar among local residents. Many say it destroys the scenery of the historic park. Quincy Township says that it breaks local ordinances requiring a 30 foot set back. This article in the Chambersburg Public Opinion describes efforts to have the new latrine moved to a more suitable location away from the park entrance and the pavilion.