Saturday, July 28, 2007

Still on Vacation

Hola! Well, it's cooler but the air is no dryer. Still, we were able to turn of the central air this morning and air out the house because there is a nice breeze blowing from the northeast. Don and I worked on a translation of an article about Lucena for a couple of hours this morning; we'll be headed out soon to catch a matinee of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" while Isis heads back to Chicago for an overnight visit with friends. Here's an article I discovered eons ago and we posted at Goddesschess back in 2003, it's a fascinating look at underwater archaeology and the recovery of some very old Islamic style chess pieces from a wreck off the coast of Turkey in circa 1979; the article was written in 1988.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Still on Vacation

My ankles are swollen, a sure sign of high humidity and even higher dewpoint. Relief is forecasted on the way by this evening, when the wind is supposed to shift around to the northwest and blow cooler and, more importantly, drier air, this way. We did finally get much needed rain, though, some on Wednesday night and some last night. We went to Chicago yesterday and I'm as red as a lobster today and I think my hair is two shades lighter! It wasn't supposed to be sunny - hah! On the other hand, it was worth taking some extra abuse from the sun while on the architectural tour via boat on the Chicago River. Isis treated us and it was not only informative, it was breathaking in parts. The architectural mix in Chicago is astounding. Chicago passed a law a few years back and so new developments along the river need to be set back from the bank a minimum of 30 feet and public access walkways and greenery have to be added. We saw the Trump tower project going up, and saw where the ground has been broken for what will be Chicago's tallest skyscraper, a design by Calatrava. We spent some time in Millennium Park, lunched at the Castle & Elephant (yummy burgers!) and rode the escalators up and down at Marshall Fields (it will NEVAH be Macy's to me). I won't be back to work until Tuesday. Here's an interesting article on Da Vinci's "Last Supper" from the International Harold Tribune: Experts skeptical on claim of new discovery in Da Vinci's "Last Supper" July 25, 2007 MILAN, Italy: A computer analyst claimed Wednesday to have discovered new images in Leonardo Da Vinci's "The Last Supper," one of the world's best-loved religious paintings. But some experts were skeptical, dismissing the claim as another spin-off of Dan Brown's best-selling novel "The Da Vinci Code." Slavisa Pesci claims to have discovered new images in the 15th mural in the dining hall of Milan's Santa Maria delle Grazie church by superimposing a reverse image on the original image. When doing so, Pesci said he observed, for example, that the two figures on either end of the long table appear to become knights, and that another figure appears to be holding an infant. "It came to mind to scan "The Last Supper" and print it on transparent paper, then superimpose it in reverse on the original image: the result is a new painting, with other figures," Pesci told a news conference.Pesci assigned no meaning to the images, saying he was not an art historian, but suggested it might have reflected Da Vinci's well-known interest in mathematics. But Alessandro Vezzosi, a Leonardo expert and the director of a museum dedicated to the artist in his hometown of Vinci, was skeptical, saying "The Last Supper" was so degraded by time that it was difficult to draw any new conclusions. While he had not yet seen the presentation, he noted that computers lend themselves to any conceivable alterations and that some have inaccurately held that Da Vinci's famed "Mona Lisa" is actually a self-portrait. "I don't like to be negative, because I admire discoveries reached scientifically," Vezzosi said. "If this computer analyst did not make a historic discovery, I hope he created something artistically beautiful." Indeed, reinterpretations of the painting have been sprung up ever since "The Da Vinci Code" fascinated readers and movie-goers with suggestions that one of the apostles sitting on Jesus' right is Mary Magdalene, that the two had a child and that their bloodline continues.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Hola! I'm slightly sunburnt, amazing considering I spent most of the day hidden under the umbrella on the deck... Lots of women's chess going on but I'm being lazy this vacation, I'll have to catch up on all the news next week. For now, just a few things to enjoy and then I'm outta here to settle down with the last Harry Potter novel (I'm on page 255). The Ghost in the Chess Machine - a review of a novel about "The Turk" machine. I got interested in linguistics and etymology because I wanted to learn more about the meanings of the words behind the names of the chess pieces. One of the books I read on the subject of language was written by Merritt Ruhlen and it introduced me to a whole different view about how the world works. Here's an article about Ruhlen and others continuing their quest to discover what they believe must be the first language spoken by ancient mankind. Judit Polgar is competing in a tournament, the MonRoi Grande Prix is going on, the Canadians are having their national women's chess championship this week, and a women only "North Ural Cup" attracted lots of the big names in women's chess. Read all about at Susan Polgar's chess blog. Potter awaits...

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Butrint Chess Piece

The Butrint chess piece was discovered in summer, 2002 in Butrint, Albania during an ongoing archaeological dig and made news the world over. The small king, about 1-1/2 inches tall, was called a fraud by some chess "experts" and declared NOT a chess piece by others - for the reason that - there were no other known chess pieces that old. Well, duh, darlings! Dondelion has written Part 2 of his continuing examination of the Butrint chess piece and the history surrounding its iconograpy. Check it out here!

Religious Hysteria in South Korea

A very strange story for your reading pleasure: Korean bishop cracks down on controversial Marian shrine A Korean bishop has warned Catholics in his diocese not to join activities at a controversial Marian shrine founded by a woman who claims to have experienced the Eucharist changing into a lump of bloody flesh in her mouth on several occasions. UCA News reports that Bishop Boniface Choi Ki-san of Incheon has released a pastoral directive forbidding Catholics from joining Naju shrine devotees, who held a Mass in his diocesan territory, just west of Seoul. The Church in 2005 rejected the alleged miracles associated with the shrine, which began more than two decades ago in Naju, 285 km south of the capital. Despite earlier warnings, Bishop Choi said in his pastoral directive, "some 700 followers of Julia Kim Youn Hong-sun of Naju joined a liturgical event in Bucheon celebrated by a Korean priest from Atlanta diocese, in the United States." Fr Andrew Pak Hui-jung, canon law professor at Incheon Catholic University, told UCA News that even if Youn and her followers firmly believe in their cause, it is not good to go against Church guidance. "Nobody knows what the Blessed Mother's will is. Church recognition of her revelations cannot be done in a short time. The devotees need to wait and see what happens next, while obeying the bishops' directives," he said. The Korean Church needs to be more active in banning the activities of Youn and her followers, he continued. "Priests from Indonesia and the Philippines have come to Naju and celebrated Masses with the followers." Youn insists she has received private revelations through her Marian statue in Naju since it "started weeping" in 1985. Many Catholics including several local and foreign bishops have visited the statue since then.The woman insists her statue has shed tears of blood and fragrant oil, and given her revelations. Another claim is that the Eucharist fell "from heaven" at times when visiting bishops and her group had Mass in her private chapel.Youn and her group further claim the Eucharist changed into a lump of bloody flesh in her mouth several times, including once in 1995 when Pope John Paul II gave her Communion at the Vatican. The Naju website maintains the late pope saw this but said nothing. In 1998, however, Archbishop Victorinus Youn Kong-hi declared there was "no evidence that proves" the alleged visions and strange phenomena concerning Youn and the Marian statue are "truly supernatural and thus from God." At the time, the now retired prelate headed Kwangju archdiocese, which covers Naju.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Butterfly

Sitting out on the deck just a few minutes ago sipping a glass of wine under the umbrella, feet up, schmoozing with Don. Along comes this butterfly - I first noticed it crawling up the side of the tablecloth very close to my left arm! It startled me and I drew back and it flew away for a second, and then flew right back and starting doing laps just a few inches above the tablecloth, round and round the table! Amazed, Don and I just stared at it, then it came closer and closer to me - I thought in those split seconds, what does it want? Is it the colors in the tablecloth - does it think it's flowers? Or my blouse - it seemed to be intently focused on me - I was wearing a floral pattern blouse. Then it circled away outside our range of vision, and I was looking at Don and talking with him when the next thing I know his eyes got big and he said "don't look now but - " and I looked where he was looking and there is the butterly on my shoulder! Eek!
I freaked, I ran in one direction, the wine glass went in the opposite direction, and the butterfly settled down almost instantly on the deck, lapping up the spilled wine! A wino butterly! It got drunk! It fell asleep standing up - or went into a stupor. Don startled it when he tried to get it to jump on his finger and it flew away (sort of, it looked rather how a drunken person would stagger away) and landed on the hose that was laying out on the grass in the sun; it's still there, about 30 minutes later. Once it flew away I was able to pick up the wine glass (it had fallen "asleep" right next to the glass and I didn't want to get anywhere near it!) and I washed down the spilled wine so other insects wouldn't come drinking!

Don got four shots, this one is probably the clearest, although shrunk down because of formatting limitations here, showing the dropped and now empty wine glass, the butterfly with his "drinker" down on the deck, a pool of wine to the left and some droplets of wine scattered about!

I've lived here 17 years and been drinking wine outside all that time, and I've never had an experience like this. Amazing, just amazing!
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