Archive for October, 2013


10.31.13 … Halloween … What’s Banksy got to do with it … or the Scots, for that matter? … ” when the boundary between the living and the spirit worlds was at its most tenuous” …

Halloween, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (TV Short 1966):

My crazy dad dressed up as the Great Pumpkin (white sheet with giant plastic pumpkin container appropriately cut to fit on his head with a flashlight inside … get the picture) and had my mom drive him around sitting on the hood of our station wagon. I now realize my dad was spot on … via It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (TV Short 1966) – IMDb came out in 1966.  All this took place in our most perfect trick-or-treating neighborhood, Brookwood Hills – Atlanta.

traditions …  When we lived on Sharon Road in Charlotte (1985 – 1993),  we had Hitchcock Halloween with our neighbors.  Tonight we watched  Rear Window for a Throw Back Thursday Halloween!  We missed the Bennetts!

Rear Window (1954)

A few other tidbits and ideas for Halloween …

Halloween costumes, Banksy, Art Beat, PBS NewsHour:

Milwaukee resident Jason McDowell dressed as a famous piece of street art by the anonymous artist known as Banksy. The original work is on a wall in West Bank\’s biblical city of Bethlehem. Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images

Pittsburgh resident Tim Notari dressed up as Magritte\’s \”Son of Man\” for Halloween recently. Photo of Notari courtesy of Flickr user Jennifer Murawski and the original \”Son of Man\” from wikicommons

via Can’t decide what to be this Halloween? How about a Banksy | Art Beat | PBS NewsHour | PBS.

A few more costume ideas …

55 Awesome Halloween Costume Ideas | Mental Floss.

pumpkins, jack o’lanterns, Louisville KY, Jack O’Lantern Spectacular:

This year, Reckner has brought his enormous “Jack O’Lantern Spectacular” to Louisville, where he has assembled his largest-ever display — 5,000 carved pumpkins, lining a path that’s a third of a mile long, in the woods of Iroquois Park.

For Reckner, the setting in Iroquois Park is ideal. “This is like a dream come true,” he said. “You walk in the woods at night, it’s an experience — never mind when you put 5,000 pumpkins up there.”

While many of the pumpkins in the show are more elaborate versions of the kind of jack-o’-lantern you might make at home, many larger pumpkins have intricate designs where artists have drawn scenes or faces and then scraped some of the pumpkin flesh away without cutting all the way through, so the design seems to glow from within the pumpkins.

To provide the manpower to carve all those pumpkins, Reckner put out a call to local artists through a Craigslist ad this summer, and interviewed candidates in September.

At the time, artist Edward Cabral was working a job he didn’t much like and was looking for something else. “I was applying to anything that had a pulse and said ‘art,’ ” Cabral said. Even so, responding to a Craigslist ad seemed a bit sketchy. “I was a little leery,” he said.

But after meeting the organizers and hearing their offer — $50 for each pumpkin design and $50 for the carving — Cabral and other artists signed up.

“I’ve been floored by the artists here,” Reckner said. “They’re actually teaching me a few things.”


via Artists make the cut to design thousands of pumpkins at ‘Jack O’Lantern Spectacular’ | The Courier-Journal |

Reformation Day (October 31), October 31 1517,  Martin Luther, 95 theses:

Photo: It’s Reformation Day (October 31), when in 1517 Martin Luther (1483-1546) posted his 95 theses protesting the sale of indulgences within the Catholic Church and launched the Protestant Reformation. “For sheer richness and exuberance of vocabulary and mastery of style,” wrote historian Roland Bainton, Luther “is to be compared only with Shakespeare.”

It’s Reformation Day (October 31), when in 1517 Martin Luther (1483-1546) posted his 95 theses protesting the sale of indulgences within the Catholic Church and launched the Protestant Reformation. “For sheer richness and exuberance of vocabulary and mastery of style,” wrote historian Roland Bainton, Luther “is to be compared only with Shakespeare.”

Halloween, Hallowe’en, All Hallows’ Eve,  Celtic festival of Samhain/Samhuinn, Robert Burns’ 1785 poem ‘Halloween’:

Halloween or Hallowe’en takes its name from All Hallows’ Eve, the night before the Christian festival of All Hallows or All Saints Day. But it’s possible to trace its beginnings back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain or Samhuinn, held on 1 November, which marked the culmination of summer and the harvest period with the onset of winter. Robert Burns’ 1785 poem ‘Halloween’ details many of the national customs and legends surrounding the festival, many of them pagan in origin, which had persisted even with the advent of Christianity.

One of the most enduring of these was the Celtic belief that it marked a time when the boundary between the living and the spirit worlds was at its most tenuous, and that the ghosts of dead, including supernatural beings such as witches and warlocks, would be able to walk the earth for this one night of the year. To ward off potentially malevolent entities, large bonfires were lit in communities and it is believed that this practice survives today in the tradition of carving pumpkin lanterns with creepy grimaces. While the use of pumpkins is actually an American invention, in Scotland it has been custom to carve lanterns out of ‘neeps’ or turnips.

via Halloween’s Scottish roots – The Distillery Blog | VisitScotland.


10.30.13 … Viva Las Vegas … the only gambling I did was in the TSA Security Line …

Las Vegas NV, Hoover Dam/The Grand Dam, The Neon Boneyard, The Strip, been there done that, TSA:  Grand week in LV …  can’t say that I plan to go back … been there done that.

First impression … the wind!  Monday 10.28 was the third windiest day I have experienced … without a storm such as a hurricane. The first was at 19 and in downtown Chicago, the second was at 40 and in downtown Chicago. The wind was so strong you had to push yourself to move forward.


Wind gusts of more than 100 mph blew through the Las Vegas Valley and Spring Mountains on Sunday and Monday, bringing power outages and wind damage with them.

The National Weather Service recorded 70-mph gusts in Kyle Canyon. The strongest was measured at 77 mph, and weather service meteorologist Chris Stumpf said that area had trees and fences blown down.

A spokesman from The Resort on Mount Charleston in Kyle Canyon said the resort’s power went out three or four times overnight Sunday.

A 103-mph wind gust was recorded near the Mount Rose ski resort between Tahoe and Reno.

Power outages early Monday morning affected 700 residents near the Fashion Show mall, 650 Indian Springs residents and 70 Goodsprings residents, NV Energy spokesman Mark Severts said.

“Our crews have to drive the length of the line to find the outage,” Severts said.

NV Energy confirmed a smaller outage near Flamingo Road and Eastern Avenue affected about 220 people Monday afternoon.

Main Street Station and the Plaza hotel-casino both reported brief outages Monday afternoon too.

via High winds pummel Las Vegas Valley | Las Vegas Review-Journal.

So I loved the Hoover Dam and its history and art and of course there is a good dog story!


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Hoover Dam, said Hansen, represented for him the building genius of America, \”a monument to collective genius exerting itself in community efforts around a common need or ideal.\” He compared the dam to such works as the great pyramids of Egypt, and said that, when viewing these man-made structures, the viewer often asks of their builders, \”What manner of men were these?\”

The sculptor, according to Hansen, tries to answer this question objectively, by \”interpreting man to other men in the terms of the man himself.\” \”In each of these monuments,\” he said, \”can be read the characteristics of these men, and on a larger scale, the community of which they are part. Thus, mankind itself is the subject of the sculptures at Hoover Dam.\”

via Bureau of Reclamation: Lower Colorado Region – Hoover Dam: Artwork.

Hoover Dam is named for Mr. Herbert Hoover, the Nation\’s 31st President. When construction of the dam was initiated, on September 30, 1930, Secretary of the Interior Ray Lyman Wilbur ordered that the dam to be built in the Black Canyon of the Colorado as part of the Boulder Canyon Project Act was to be called Hoover Dam. By a Congressional Act of February 14, 1931, this name was made official.

After Mr. Hoover left office, the names \”Boulder Canyon Dam\” and \”Boulder Dam\” were frequently used when referring to the dam, allegedly because the new Secretary of the Interior did not like Mr. Hoover. However, the name of the dam was never officially changed from \”Hoover.\”

In the 80th Congress (1947), a number of bills were introduced to \”officially\” restore the name of Hoover Dam.

via Bureau of Reclamation: Lower Colorado Region – Hoover Dam: What is in a Name?.

And here is the dog story …

He inspected everything daily. As the dam rose higher and higher he had to ride the skips, a type of open-air elevator, to cover the ground. When he wanted to board a skip, he barked, and the operators always stopped for him. The mascot would hop aboard and bark again at the level where he wished to get off.

Trainers will tell you that one of the most difficult tricks to teach an animal is to get them to walk on any swaying, unstable surface, but Hoover Dam\’s mascot raced happily back and forth across the swinging catwalks slung across the canyon seven hundred feet above the Colorado River.

The Hoover Dam mascot was not a one-man dog. He had no master. He belonged to the dam and everyone connected with it, and they all belonged to him! If he decided to work overtime at his favorite job of chasing ring-tailed cats that infested the tunnels, he hitched a ride back to town in the first Bureau of Reclamation or Six Companies car, truck or transport that happened along. No one ever remembers him accepting a ride from anyone not connected with the dam. How he could differentiate between dam workers and casual visitors no one could figure out, but it is a known fact that he did.

Everyone wanted to feed the dog, and being a dog, he found it hard to refuse. He became quite sick. The worried workers then decided that the dog needed supervised feeding. Arrangements were made with the commissary for the dog to be fed and word was passed to all workers not to offer him any more food.

The commissary packed a lunch for him every day and he soon learned to carry it in his mouth when he boarded the transport. At the construction site, he placed the sack alongside the workers\’ lunch pails and went about his business. When the whistle blew, the dog raced for his sack and sat patiently until someone opened it for him.

On a day when the blazing desert sun, combined with a blast furnace wind, pushed the thermometer over the 120-degree mark, the dog found a spot of shade under a truck. The driver never noticed the sleeping dog when he started up and drove off.

News of the fatal accident was phoned to town and it was the quietest afternoon Boulder City ever experienced. Later, rough, tough, hard-rock men wept openly and unashamed as they slammed their ear-shattering jackhammers into the hard rock cliff, carving out the grave which was to be the Hoover Dam mascot\’s tomb.

So, in death as in life, the Hoover Dam mascot looks upon the dam he loved for as long as it will stand and when the wind howls around the towers of the dam, the old-timers smile knowingly. It isn\’t wind. It\’s the dog baying at the ring-tailed cats.

via Bureau of Reclamation: Lower Colorado Region – Hoover Dam: Dog on a Catwalk.

The Neon Museum, the Neon “Boneyard”:  A friend insisted I go … I’d go again!

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Most of our signs are exhibited in “The Boneyard” where they serve as inspiration to fascinated artists, students, historians and designers.  It is home to some of the most treasured and world-famous signs of Las Vegas – Caesars Palace, Binions Horseshoe, the Golden Nugget  and the Stardust. The two-acre Musuem campus includes the adjacent Neon Boneyard Park as well as the \”The Boneyard\” which houses more than 150 historic signs. Each sign in the collection has a unique story about who created it, what inspired it, where and when it was made, and how it fits into the development of Las Vegas and the citys rich history.  Changes and trends in design and technology are also illustrated in the pieces that range from the 1930s to the present day.

via Neon Boneyard – The Neon Museum Las Vegas | Guided tours available daily.

The Neon Museum officially “opened” with the installation of its first refurbished sign, the Hacienda Horse and Rider, at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont Street.

Today, restored signs can be viewed as public art and visited on a self-guided tour twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The gallery includes, among others, the Lucky Cuss Motel, the Bow & Arrow Motel, The Silver Slipper, Binion\’s Horseshoe, the Normandie Motel, Dot’s Flowers, the Landmark and 5th Street liquors.

via The Collection – The Neon Museum Las Vegas | Guided tours available daily.

The Strip:  I took two long walks along the Strip … the first I’ll call Massive Sensory Overload … I had a headache ever since I arrived (it actually went away while at the Hoover Dam) … I returned to my hotel the night before and curled up … I was so relieved to move from the the Paris, to MGM, to NY NY, to Luxor and then from the Mandalay Bay part of the building to the Four Seasons part. My sensory overload went down with each step I walked. It was amazing how much more pleasant the Four Seasons was.  I can honestly say that LV was not on my “bucket list,” and I would never go out of my way to return.  Our Hoover Dam tour guide Peter told us that 15 of the world’s largest resorts are in LV. I definitely have a different concept of resort.




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And my second walk … I was able to manage the sensory overload a little better …

So here is adventure no. 2 …

Barney’s in LV … Although I can’t afford anything … I love it that sheath dresses are in and that they are at least knee-length … Also lots of black. Just my style.


Venetian actually worked for me … Kinda …


Casino Royale and Harrah’s … Not so classy …

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Bally had street characters too … Like Times Square … Very Strange!

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But the Chihully Glass installation at the Bellagio was worth the adventure!!

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And the Bellagio fountains were nice …



 And then of course the pop up wedding chapel … According to the sign they perform just about any type of service … Even a pet wedding! And I actually saw two brides!  Unfortunately, they did not stand out from the crowd!






 Given that Coke has a store … They don’t sell it in most places.  But Pepsi gets its two cents in.

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And then when I finally arrived  home after traipsing up and down the Strip, I had to walk to the very end of this very long hall!




Who says FB doesn’t connect … a high school friend and I were not only both in LV, both at the Four Seasons, and both went to Neon Boneyard on the same day, so we had to meet for drinks  … and except for visiting at Westminster reunions, had not seen each other in ages … Small world!! Loved it!

And a final note …

I can honestly say Las Vegas security was the worst I’ve ever seen. I separated from John because  he was TSA pre-cleared.  I rejoined him 50 minutes later.  Their system was a major fail. Not only did  they let people through who were TSA Pre-cleared and First Class, but they let those who were late go in a shortened line, about 1/10 my line, and 2x I had to gamble … I  had to make line choices, and I never make good choices.  And that was the only gambling I did, and needless to say, I felt like a total loser.


10.27.13 … “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” …

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Crossnore School Labyrinth, Crossnore NC, 2013 Labyrinth Walks:

Wow this is the quirkiest labyrinth ever!  But I loved it …

After entering the garden I noticed the butterfly bench and the rabbit pointing the way.

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And on the dedication marker, a great quote …

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

― John Muir

It has what looks like church windows setup at one side.  They are made of wrought iron.

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Through the “window” view reveals a fun sculpture of children and a dog walking across a large log.

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There are multiple water features around the labyrinth and one in the center, in addition to the small stream that goes under the log sculpture and feeds under the labyrinth and which you can hear while walking the labyrinth.

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The barriers of each quadrant are actually large planters.  I have never seen this done before and I really like it.

Because it is fall, the labyrinth is covered with leaves, and as I walk, I hear the rustling of the leaves.

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There are 4 benches, one on the perimeter of each quadrant. The bench closest to the entrance has my favorite quote: “Be still and know that I am God.“ Psalm 46:10

I notice that on the bench on the opposite side there is another quote that is often found at labyrinths: “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”  Psalm 119:105

I look around for the 3rd bench.  It has the quote: “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5

And on the fourth bench … Deuteronomy 30:16: “Love the Lord your God. Walk in his ways. And keep his commandments.”

When the labyrinth path takes you between the barrier planters, it feels playful …

On the periphery is also a small outdoor fireplace.  It would be great fun to walk on a cool evening with a fire burning.

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I would love to see this labyrinth when the garden is in full glory but it is still a wonderful experience in the fall.

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And this is a great post about the Crossnore labyrinth and walking labyrinths in general.

At its most basic level the labyrinth is a metaphor for the journey to the center of your deepest self and back out into the world with a broadened understanding of who you are.

via Life in the Carolina Mountains: Crossnore Labyrinth.


10.25.13 – 10.27.13 … According to Greek and Roman legend, amethysts protected their owners from drunkenness. So what do we do ? How do we protect our young adults from the consequences of alcohol? …

Amethyst Initiative,  U.S. college presidents, The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984,  U.S. legal drinking age:  i get together annually with an eclectic group of bright dynamic women.  We met as college students and the legal drinking age in the state of our college was 18 for beer and wine and 21 for everything else.  There were a few bad instances, but generally once the mistakes were made that was the end of it.  Rarely were there legal or financial, much less medical, including psychiatric consequences to “learning to drink” in a close-knit community.  Many of us have college age children now.  Obviously the situation is very different now.  Each of us has had a student or knows closely a student who has had to deal with the consequences of underage drinking.  So what do we do ?

The Amethyst Initiative is an organization made up of U.S. college presidents and chancellors that in July 2008 launched a movement calling for the reconsideration of U.S. legal drinking age, particularly the minimum age of 21. The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 requires all US states to raise their minimum age for purchase and public possession of alcohol to 21 or face a reduction in highway funds under the Federal-Aid Highway Act. The Amethyst Initiative was initiated by John McCardell, founder of Choose Responsibility,[1] a former professor of history at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont and current Vice-Chancellor of Sewanee: The University of the South, and is currently supported by 135 college presidents who signed a statement proclaiming, “It’s time to rethink the drinking age”.[2][3]

According to Greek and Roman legend, amethysts protected their owners from drunkenness.

via Amethyst Initiative – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Launched in July 2008, the Amethyst Initiative is made up of chancellors and presidents of universities and colleges across the United States. These higher education leaders have signed their names to a public statement that the problem of irresponsible drinking by young people continues despite the minimum legal drinking age of 21, and there is a culture of dangerous binge drinking on many campuses.

The Amethyst Initiative supports informed and unimpeded debate on the 21 year-old drinking age. Amethyst Initiative presidents and chancellors call upon elected officials to weigh all the consequences of current alcohol policies and to invite new ideas on how best to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol use.

via Amethyst Initiative » Welcome to the Amethyst Initiative.




10.26.13 …”Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:2) …

Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Bristol VA, 2013 Labyrinth Walks, Amiens Style labyrinth, 2013 Davidson ’82 Reunion Group Gathering (Wasabies):

I gathered with my group of 16 who we for a quirky reason call ourselves the WASABIES.
I of course found a local labyrinth in downtown Bristol Virginia. It isn’t a Chartres style labyrinth but an Amiens style labyrinth, and  I have never walked this style.
I chuckled when I went to EEC’s website because it showed a picture of a priest blessing a dog on the labyrinth … but that is another conversation  🙂 …

Welcome to Emmanuel Episcopal Church

We are located in downtown Bristol, Va, just one block from the Virginia-Tennessee state line, and have been serving our community since 1862. We would love for you to tour our beautiful church, walk our Labyrinth, and join us for worship on Sundays and Wednesdays.

Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:2)

via Welcome to Emmanuel Episcopal Church | Emmanuel Episcopal Church | Bristol, VA / TN.

Outside, a labyrinth taking its design from the famous one at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Amiens, in Amiens, France, is available for use by anyone in the community who wishes to pray and meditate while walking in it.

via News.

So here is my labyrinth adventure … After a wonderful walk with my friends along the river, we headed to Emmanuel Episcopal Church in  downtown Bristol
About five of us walked the labyrinth. For several, it was a new experience. I shared my labyrinth walking experience with them and then we walked as a group.
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It was really a peaceful experience.
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As I have mentioned my favorite labyrinth to walk is the full 11 circuit Chartres style labyrinth.
The Amiens style works very well as well.  It is amazing that the medieval french catholic priests constructed labyrinths that work much better than modern artsy labyrinths. I wonder why that is so. It clearly has something to do with “sacred geometry” which includes a timing element which makes it just right.
And here is a little history on the Amiens style labyrinth …

The Labyrinth of Amiens Cathedral is the second largest in France, being slightly smaller than its cousin in Chartres.[3]  Measuring about 12.1 meters wide, the labyrinth occupies the entire width of the fourth and fifth bays of the nave, and is thought to have originally been placed in the cathedral in 1288.[4]  Although it is octagonal, its tracks follow the same pattern as Chartres, which is why it is considered to be an Octagonal, Chartres-type labyrinth.[5] Comprised of “white-and-blue-black” stones, its entrance opens to the west, with the white stones acting as the labyrinthine obstacles.

Prior to the French Revolution, the labyrinth’s center comprised of a medallion which stated:

In the year of grace 1220, the construction of this church first began.  Blessed Evrard was at that time bishop of the diocese.  The king of France was then Louis the son of Philip the wise.  He who directed the work was called Master Robert, surnamed Luzarches.  Master Thomas de Cormont came after him, and after him his son Renaud, who had placed here this inscription in the year of the incarnation, 1288.[6]

via labyrinth of amiens cathedral: Loyola University Chicago.


10.25.13 … All Shall Be Well …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2013 Labyrinth Walks, kith/kin, Downtown Abingdon VA:

 As I entered the mountains of VA, it became cloudy, very cloudy.  So this fall day had a damp wintry feel to it.

With my gps running, I was looking hard for the labyrinth.  It was a private labyrinth so I was not looking for a church or a park.  But finally I spied it on a vacant lot  on a residential street.

It is Chartres labyrinth made of all pavers with no space for grass to peek through, very attractive,  accessible and nicely landscaped.

I was meeting a friend who was joining me for a girl gathering in Bristol TN for the weekend.  There are only a few I share my walking idiosyncrasy  and each of these 16 women are victims.  The one who met me for my pre-gathering walk was a willing victim.  🙂




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Several of you have asked how I find  labyrinths to walk.

First I look them up on the world-wide labyrinth locator …

Valley Street NE, between Court St. and Tanner

Abingdon, Virginia 24210

“All Shall Be Well….” a labyrinth and meditation space on private property, open to all.

Schedule:Always open

Type:Medieval Chartres replica

Material:Brick/PaverDesigner:The Labyrinth Company

Builder:Simlay Natural, Inc.

Size:39 feet diameter

Date installed:October 2010

via World-Wide Labyrinth Locator – Locate a Labyrinth.

If there are several in an area, I will google them to help me select.  This one had a nice article about it in the local paper …

The light brown bricks meander back and forth for three-quarters of a mile, said Jan Hurt, owner of the labyrinth.

It’s hard to imagine the path is that long, as it winds through a 40-foot-wide round, brick patio-like structure on the lot across from her Valley Street home, but that’s part of the beauty of it.

The purpose of walking it is not to reach a physical destination, but a spiritual one.

“We want people to walk it,” said Hurt, who explained that although the labyrinth is privately owned and on private land, it’s open to the public at all times. “That’s why we built it.”

A 91 percent scale replica of a labyrinth on the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France, it is entitled All Shall Be Well.

“Ninety-one is some sort of mystical geometric number,” explained Hurt, who described the intricate pattern as “compulsive geometry.”

“What I don’t know is how anyone can draw this and come up with this pattern,” she marveled, as she began to walk a section of it, following the brick pattern up and back and around.

It’s one of three labyrinths that now exist in Abingdon, said Garrett Jackson, the town’s planning director. The others are on the grounds of Christ the King Catholic Church and Virginia Highlands Community College.

via Walking in Abingdon to reach spiritual destination – News.


10.23.13 … According to Bansky, Ronald, arguably, the second most sculpted figure in history outside of Christ …

Ronald, arguably, the second most sculpted figure in history outside of Christ …

A fibreglass replica of Ronald McDonald having his shoes shined by a real live boy. The sculpture will visit the sidewalk outside a different McDonalds every lunchtime for the next week. Today: South Bronx.

via Better Out Than In.

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Bed Stuy / Williamsburg

via Better Out Than In.

The obvious allusion is to the work of African-American artist Kara Walker but without the subtext of American history. While Banksy’s official Instagram account suggests the work is in Brooklyn Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, we do not have confirmation on the location yet. (Update, 11:37am: We have received unverified word that the piece is at Graham Avenue & Cook Street in East Williamsburg.)

Banksy Goes Japonaiserie in Brooklyn, Tribeca Banksy Vandalized [UPDATE 5].

A print by Edo period artist Hokusai (via

via Banksy Goes Japonaiserie in Brooklyn, Tribeca Banksy Vandalized [UPDATE 5].

“Graffiti is sort of a way of life here, so if you are going to have it, why not make it a little whimsical and a little fun?\” she said. \”It\’s a bit like a scavenger\’s hunt, and you can see how happy it makes people.

He’s the talk of the town, but no one knows where—or who—he actually is.

Elusive British street artist Banksy started a stenciling spree across New York last week, using the walls of buildings as his canvases. And instead of being publicized, Banksy’s graffiti has simply been discovered—and fans have then spread the whereabouts on social media.

The artist\’s website calls the project a “monthlong residency” in the city, stating: “For the next month Banksy will be attempting to host an entire show on the streets of New York.”

He is calling his New York exhibition “Better Out Than In,” a reference to a quote by the artist Paul Cézanne: “All pictures painted inside, in the studio, will never be as good as those done outside.”

Banksy, a pseudonym, keeps his identity shrouded in mystery and could not be reached for comment. His work has seen commercial success, with some artwork removed from buildings and sold at auction, while his 2010 documentary, “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” was nominated for an Academy Award.

Because of the artist’s anonymity, Banksy’s works, which often feature political messages, are generally only authenticated when he has posts photos of them on his website (though it’s not clear who operates the site). For his New York project, Banksy is also posting photos to Instagram under the name banksyny.

His website also includes a toll-free number and an online “Click here to listen” button with audio commentary, a spoof on the audio guides generally offered at museum exhibits.

Banksy began his rogue New York project on Oct. 1 with a stencil at 18 Allen St. on the Lower East Side. The piece featured a turn-of-the-century street urchin standing on another boy’s back, reaching for a can of spray paint on a sign reading “graffiti is a crime.”

via Desperately Seeking Banksy –


10.22.13 … For Jake and Dearest Human … If you need information about what is happening in the brain of a dog to know that dogs think and have feelings and emotions, then either you’ve never met a dog or your own humanity is in doubt …

personhood, man’s best friend, Jake:  A friend posts daily from her jake’s perspective.  No doubt Jake is a person.  🙂

If you need information about what is happening in the brain of a dog to know that dogs think and have feelings and emotions, then either you’ve never met a dog or your own humanity is in doubt.

You can no more seriously entertain the possibility that a dog is a mere automaton than you can entertain such a hypothesis about your human loved ones. To do so would require you to stand back and look at what a dog (or a person) does (and says) as devoid of meaning and expressive power. And to do that would be disrespectful. This is the Sissy Jupe point.

via MRI Scans Can’t Show Us Consciousness Or Personhood : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR.

medical controversies,  medicine, scientists, achy joints,  predict the weather, good to know:  🙂

One of the longest running controversies in medicine has been resolved: scientists find achy joints can predict the weather.

Do certain weather conditions ever aggravate physical pain in you? How do you lessen its impact?

via The Wall Street Journal.

automakers, virtual showroom, apps,

“They won’t come into the stores to educate themselves,” said Peter Chung, general manager of Magic Toyota and Scion in Edmonds, Wash. “They’ll do that online.”

More than half of the younger buyers surveyed by, a car-buying site, said they wanted to avoid interacting with dealership sales representatives.

In response, automakers like Cadillac and Toyota are starting to embrace technology that tries to take the showroom to the buyer. Known as augmented reality, it embeds images and videos in a picture on the user’s smartphone or tablet. The result is a far more detailed view of the image, often in three dimensions with added layers of information.

For example, when Cadillac introduced the ATS last year, it created a campaign in cities across the country that allowed observers to point an iPad at a chalk mural and watch the car drive through scenes like China’s mountainous Guoliang Tunnel and Monaco’s Grand Prix circuit. The goal was to grab the attention of potential buyers, especially younger ones, who would not normally think of Cadillac when researching new cars.

via Automakers Build Showroom in an App –

tips, change, iOS 7,  Still have not done it …

While some are shocked by the design changes of iOS 7, my colleague Brian X. Chen wrote on Thursday that most consumers who have jumped to the new operating system seem to be enjoying the new design.

Of course, if none of these tips work and you’re in complete disarray after your upgrade, there is one more option you can try: turn off your phone and go away for a nice quiet weekend with your family.

via Tips for Making the Change to iOS 7 –

memes and gifs, fyi:   

Main article: Internet meme

An “Internet meme” is a concept that spreads rapidly from person to person via the Internet, usually in a humorous way, largely through internet-based E-mail, blogs, forums, Imageboards, social networking sites, instant messaging and video sites such as YouTube.[44] In 2013 Richard Dawkins characterized an Internet meme as being deliberately altered by human creativity—distinguished from genes and Dawkins’ original idea of a meme which involved mutation by random change and spreading through accurate copying in a form of Darwinian selection.[45]

via Meme – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

CompuServe introduced the GIF format in 1987 to provide a color image format for their file downloading areas, replacing their earlier run-length encoding (RLE) format, which was black and white only. GIF became popular because it used LZW data compression, which was more efficient than the run-length encoding that formats such as PCX and MacPaint used, and fairly large images could therefore be downloaded in a reasonably short time, even with very slow modems.

The original version of the GIF format was called 87a.[1] In 1989, CompuServe devised an enhanced version, called 89a,[2] which added support for animation delays (multiple images in a stream were already supported in 87a), transparent background colors, and storage of application-specific metadata. The 89a specification also supports incorporating text labels as text (not embedding them in the graphical data), but as there is little control over display fonts, this feature is not widely used. The two versions can be distinguished by looking at the first six bytes of the file (the “magic number” or “signature”), which, when interpreted as ASCII, read “GIF87a” and “GIF89a”, respectively.

GIF was one of the first two image formats commonly used on Web sites, the other being the black and white XBM.[citation needed]

The feature of storing multiple images in one file, accompanied by control data, is used extensively on the Web to produce simple animations. The optional interlacing feature, which stores image scan lines out of order in such a fashion that even a partially downloaded image was somewhat recognizable, also helped GIF’s popularity,[citation needed] as a user could abort the download if it was not what was required.

In 2012, the word “GIF” was officially recognized as a verb as well as a noun, meaning “to create a GIF file”. The US wing of the Oxford University Press voted it their word of the year, saying that GIFs have evolved into “a tool with serious applications including research and journalism”.[3][4]

via Graphics Interchange Format – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


10.22.13 … secrets, secret places and secret lives …


China, Harbin China, pollution:  In the heat of the summer it was bad … but never this bad!  

The Harbin government reported an air quality index (AQI) score of 500, the highest possible reading, with some neighborhoods posting concentrations of PM2.5 — fine particulate matter that are 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller and especially harmful to health — as high as 1,000 milligrams per cubic meter, according to the China News Service.

(By comparison, the air quality index in New York was 41 on Monday morning.)

The Chinese government describes air with an AQI between 301 and 500 as “heavily polluted” and urges people to refrain from exercising outdoors; the elderly and other vulnerable populations are supposed to stay indoors entirely. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uses a similar index that labels any reading between 301 and 500 as “hazardous.”

Both scales reach their limit at 500, leaving creative citizens of polluted cities to come up with their own labels when the air gets worse. Foreign residents in Beijing declared an “airpocalpyse” last January when the U.S. Embassy reported an AQI equivalent of 755, with a PM2.5 concentration of 866 milligrams per cubic meter. The World Health Organization has standards that judge a score above 500 to be more than 20 times the level of particulate matter in the air deemed safe.

via ‘Airpocalypse’ Hits Harbin, Closing Schools –

Lewis Grizzard, The South:  I always loved Lewis’ columns … still do …

He would tell Yankee immigrants who found fault with the South: “Delta is ready when you are.”

via Lewis Grizzard | Today In Georgia History.

Paris, Ernest Hemingway, quotes, kith/kin:  How long do you have to “live ”  to feel this way?

source: Pinterest.

travel, shoes, good informationBest Walking Shoes for Travel – Articles | Travel + Leisure.

Norma Kamali, Provence FR, olive orchards, bucket list:  Never thought of doing a tour of olive vineyards …

So began the first of what would become a decade of road trips from Barcelona along the coast of Spain and into France and Italy. But of all the orchards that Ms. Kamali has ever visited along the way, her favorite is in Provence, in the South of France, where she thinks the best olive oil in the world is made. “If there was a description of what heaven looks like,” she said, “I would say this is it.”


Ms. Kamali’s Provence is an autumnal watercolor of what she describes as endless vineyards against a backdrop of mountains and sea. France’s sole A.O.C. (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) olive-oil designation — a sought-after status that verifies the oil’s contents, as well as the method and origin of production — is in Provence. The region is also home to five of France’s seven A.O.P. (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) olive-oil designations, a classification system used throughout the European Union.


Despite having been to orchards from Spain to Italy, Ms. Kamali always returns to Provence for the quality of the oil, the taste of which depends on many factors, including sun (is the orchard on the shady side of a hill?), terrain (are the trees on flat land?) and neighbors (what’s planted nearby?). “In France it’s often living next to lavender,” Ms. Kamali said, “so there are some olive oils that have a lavender scent.”

The fragrance may be delicate, but “the olive trees are in themselves just very stoic,” she said.

“They lasted through wars and all kinds of weather conditions,” she continued. “History just counts the olive tree as part of the marking of time.”

When in Provence, Ms. Kamali stays at a friend’s chateau, but she said that you can still immerse yourself in the culture by staying at a villa on an orchard.

via Steal My Vacation – Norma Kamali’s Provence –

Frank Law Olmstead, Biltmore, John Singer Sargent: I stood for several minutes and stared at this portrait on my last visit to Biltmore.  it is huge and I love the outfit and cane.  Now that I know that his son wore the outfit and posed toward the end, I think it even more interesting.  Olmstead’s impacted almost every city I love in the US … nothing better in a city than a really good park!

As a National Historic Site it is also a modest place, considering the huge scope of the legacy left by the man who lived and worked there. Olmsted is best known as the creator of Central Park, a design he completed with his partner Calvert Vaux. With that celebrated project he may be said to have invented the field of landscape architecture, going on provide most of the major cities in America with a legacy of his genius. To name a few, the great parks of Boston, Chicago, Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Louisville, Rochester, Buffalo, Baltimore, Denver, Seattle, all bear his signature. He designed the grounds of the U.S. Capitol and all or parts of the campuses of Stanford, Cornell, Amherst, Yale, Bryn Mawr, Wellesley, Smith, Mount Holyoke, and many others.

Olmsted by Sargent

The final work project of his life, though, was for a private client, George Washington Vanderbilt, who in 1895 had just completed The Biltmore, the largest private residence ever built in the United States. It was a 250-room chateau outside of Ashville, North Carolina. Olmsted worked to landscape the place. Perhaps recognizing that his 73-year-old landscape designer was in poor health, Vanderbilt arranged for Olmsted’s friend, the artist John Singer Sargent, to come down from Boston to paint his portrait on the grounds of the estate. Sargent chose to place his subject in a setting of thick vegetation. It is a poignant picture of an old man leaning on a cane and somehow receding slightly into the mass of greenery around him. Flowers and flowering bushes had never been Olmsted’s forte; he had always preferred to plant trees that took little tending. In Sargent’s portrait, the flowers seem slightly out of control, reaching to overtake the elderly gentleman standing in their midst.

via Frederick Law Olmsted, John Singer Sargent, and Nature’s Design.

Entering a city park can be almost surreal, like encountering a desert mirage–smells of hot garbage are replaced instantly with cut grass and forsythia, sounds of screeching subway brakes are traded for birdcalls and quiet. Former Vogue editor and New York Public Library chairman Catie Marron had a lifelong love for these green respites from cacophony and claustrophobia. “I always gravitate towards city parks. In the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris when I was 23, something moved me internally, almost brought me to tears,” Marron tells Co.Design. “I really wanted to find books on parks for myself, but I didn’t find any. They didn’t seem to exist.”

She decided to change that, and rallied an impressive collection of authors and public figures–including Bill Clinton, Zadie Smith, Andre Aciman, Colm Toibin, and Nicole Krauss–to pen poignant odes to twenty-one city parks the world over. The resulting book, City Parks: Public Places, Private Thoughts, captures the enchantment of urban green spaces with intimate essays and Oberto Gili’s full color photographs, which appear almost three-dimensional in their depth and richness.

via The Secret Lives Of City Parks | Co.Design | business + design.


10.22.13 … I loved this post on groupons … “Wise men ne’er sit and wail their loss, But cheerly seek how to redress their harms.” …

groupons, William Shakespeare, Henry VI:  I love a good liberal arts education … closing a discussion of wasted groupons with Shakespeare!

The way he said it made me think he might actually be in cahoots with the cockroaches.  Sort of like Tony Soprano saying, “Hey, bada bing, bada bang!, I’d hate to see you use that other waste removal company and possibly have some sorta accident rolling your trash bin up to Grey Road.”  Aaaargh!

Wise men ne’er sit and wail their loss,

But cheerly seek how to redress their harms.

William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part III Act V, scene 4, line 1.

via Leaving money on the table… | 50th Year of Pat Millen.

Malala,  Advocacy Curriculum, George Washington University:  A very impressive young woman!

George Washington University announced Monday that faculty members are creating multimedia curriculum tools to accompany a book recently released by the teen, Malala Yousafzai. Several faculty members will pilot the curriculum early next year for both college and high school instruction. Free of charge, it will focus on themes such as the importance of a woman\’s voice and political extremism, the university said.

The tools won\’t just look at the teen\’s story, but also how the same issues get reflected elsewhere, such as when girls face child marriage and pressures to leave school, said Mary Ellsberg, the director of the university\’s Global Women\’s Institute.

\”It\’s going to be really interactive and really encourage students to do … activities outside of school, it will encourage them to get engaged in the communities and as well to help the Malala Fund directly,\” Ellsberg said.

The university\’s Global Women\’s Institute is partnered with the Malala Fund, a nonprofit that seeks to ensure girls around the world have access to education.

via Malala Inspires Advocacy Curriculum At George Washington University.

college life, fraternity life, naked pictures, misogyny:  Why naked pictures aren’t harmless –

Last week at Swarthmore College a pledge posted a photograph on Instagram of his offer to join a fraternity. The picture was of a booklet cover featuring a mosaic of hundreds of naked or nearly naked women. The website Total Frat Move lamented that it wasn’t deliverd with a note saying, “Enjoy the tits.” The fraternity has used this format for several years — but this year, a group of students led by senior Marian Firke protested the use of the photography. They created an alternative version of the composite image and asked the school to suspend the fraternity’s school-funded party budget.

Swarthmore’s dean of students agreed with protesters and took steps to address their concerns, including requiring members of the fraternity to attend yet-to-be-defined “special training sessions.” The speed with which the administration has responded may have something to do with the fact that the college is one of a growing list of schools, including Occidental, the University of North Carolina, Yale and Dartmouth, involved in very public complaints for their handling (or mishandling) of sexual assault cases. Emerson is the latest school to be investigated by the Department of Education for related Title IX violations. While the administration’s responsiveness is laudable, the truth is that given the scope of the problem at hand, entire swaths of our population need “special training sessions,” and before they even make it to college. What do we do about them?

via Why naked pictures aren’t harmless –

faith, cultural v spiritual, Jewish identity:

All three embrace their Jewish identity — but this isn’t their parents’ Jewishness.

As underscored in a major new survey, they are among those navigating a period of historic flux in how American Jews view themselves, their religion, their culture, and how they affiliate with each other.

A growing minority of American Jews — including nearly a third of younger adults in particular — say they’re not religious but continue to identify themselves as Jewish, according to the survey, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” released this month by the Pew Research Center.

Intermarriage rates also continue at high levels among younger Jews — 58 percent among Jews married this century.

And on the list of things that make someone Jewish, far more Jews chose such things as remembering the Holocaust, being moral and ethical, working for justice and even having a good sense of humor than such traditional markers as belonging to the Jewish community or observing religious law.

via American Jews carve out faith different than parents’ | The Courier-Journal |

Black Friday/Thanksgiving:

Add Macy’s to the list of retailers kicking off “Black Friday” and Thanksgiving Thursday.

Macy’s will open the doors at most of its 800 namesake department stores, at 8 p.m. on Nov. 28. The company said the shift was voluntary for workers and that the move was “consistent with what many rivals are doing.

Traditionally, retailers have waited until Black Friday, the day after the Thanksgiving, to start their end-of-the-year push for sales.

U.S. retailers have extended their hours on Black Friday, so named because it\’s when most stroes go into the black, in recent years to get a jump on the holiday season sales.

via Macy’s latest retailer to open holiday shopping season on Thanksgiving –

 William Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying”, grammatically Incorrect, Mental Floss, Miley Cyrus, AMA Manual of Style, Bob Dylan (“Lay Lady Lay”), Eric Clapton (“Lay Down Sally”), lay/lie:

But did he? The comment links to a blog entry from the AMA Manual of Style on Faulkner’s use of “lay.” Though at first it may seem that the title of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying is incorrect (what could be more intransitive than someone lying there dying?), the entry points out that here “lay” is actually the correct past tense of “lie.” (I know. Could these rules make it any more complicated?) So there is nothing wrong with the title.

What the article takes issue with is a sentence from the novel “you lay you down and rest you.” Obviously, this is in the vernacular and not to be taken as textbook grammatical, and yes, “the correct form of the sentence would use the intransitive verb: ‘You lie down.’” But here, even within the context of this non-standard dialect, Faulkner follows the rule. The verb “lay” does take an object in “you lay you down,” and the object is “you.” Not much different from “now I lay me down to sleep,” a sentence even the strictest red pen will pass over without a second glance.

So let’s leave Faulkner out of this. If you want, you can take it up with Bob Dylan (“Lay Lady Lay”) or Eric Clapton (“Lay Down Sally”). But it’s probably time we all just laid our tired bootys down and started focusing on more important matters, such as, what is the proper plural of “booty”?

via Is “As I Lay Dying” Grammatically Incorrect? | Mental Floss.

Einstein, “Combinatory Play”, secret of genius, Brain Pickings:

The concept, in fact, was perhaps best explained by Albert Einstein, who termed it “combinatory play.” (Einstein famously came up with some of his best scientific ideas during his violin breaks.) From his Ideas and Opinions (public library) — the same invaluable volume that gave us the beloved physicist’s timeless wisdom on kindness and our shared existence — comes Einstein’s single most succinct articulation of how his mind works, driven by this powerful combinatorial creativity. The 1945 letter was written in response to French mathematician Jacques S. Hadamard’s survey of the mental processes of famous scientists, inspired by polymath Henri Poincaré’s famous meditation on the subject and published as An Essay on the Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field, with Einstein’s missive included as a “testimonial”:

via How Einstein Thought: Why “Combinatory Play” Is the Secret of Genius | Brain Pickings.

Dan Pink, lists, My 5 favorite talks on work, TED Playlists, TED:  5 more for me to watch …

Dan Pink: My 5 favorite talks on work

Popular business author Dan Pink picks his 5 favorite TED Talks on how to find greater success at work.

via Dan Pink: My 5 favorite talks on work | TED Playlists | TED.

clutter-clearing myths,  The Happiness Project:

One of my great realizations about happiness (and a point oddly under-emphasized by positive psychologists) is that for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm. More, really, than it should. After all, in the context of a happy life, a crowded coat closet is trivial. And yet over and over, people tell me, and I certainly find this, myself, that creating order gives a huge boost in energy, cheer, and creativity.

But as much as most of us want to keep our home, office, car, etc. in reasonable order, it’s tough. Here’s a list of some myths of de-cluttering that make it harder to get rid of stuff.

via Do You Fall for Any of These Common Clutter-Clearing Myths? « The Happiness Project.

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October 2013