Thursday, October 31, 2013

Zombie-Proof House 2

Zombie House Returns

The ultimate Zombie-proof house.

zombie proof house
No Zombies allowed!
Some time ago, I saw a couple of pictures of a model of a house that you might want if you went all-out to get something that was zombie-proof. Well, that was amusing, but I'm sure everybody thought it was a big joke.

What, you aren't ready for Z-Day - Zombie Apocalypse Day?

Well, yes, it is a bit of a joke - the house pictured below is just a scale model and would cost big bucks to actually build - but it struck a real chord with people. Many folks dream of having their very own fortress compound.

That said, it is claimed that a Polish architect, Robert Konieczny of KWK Promes, designed this as the world's first zombie-proof abode — the "Safe House." Nice promotional work, Mr. Konieczny!

It is further claimed that this house actually exists and was built on the outskirts of Warsaw. I have very serious doubts about that, particularly since the only pictures of this you can find are of an obvious concept model complete with fake grass, fake people and even a fake cat!

zombie proof house

The design features Rubik's Cube-type movable parts and folds in on itself completely at the end of the day to seal against outside threats.

"Every day the house acts in a similar way — it wakes up every morning to close up after dusk," says the architect. Sounds like it takes a lot of energy on a daily basis then, eh, Mr. Konieczny? Those solar panels will be working overtime.

The Safe House has just one entrance, on the second floor, connected by a drawbridge.

For extra security, after crossing the bridge, visitors would have to wait within a safety zone before being let into the rest of the house. Kind of like an airlock on a spaceship.

zombie proof house

During the day, the house opens onto a garden and the movable walls change position to create a courtyard.

"There is no risk of children escaping to the street area in an uncontrolled way while playing in the garden," says Mr Konieczny. Of course, if they wait until after dusk, they might have some difficulty getting back in, though.

Please check out this gallery of pictures of the most secure home in the world that isn't located in a bomb shelter or patrolled by its very own private army of hired mercenaries.

With the way things are going, anyone building this might wind up having the last laugh. At least you can safely piss off your nosy neighbors from the roof!

zombie proof house

zombie proof house

zombie proof house

zombie proof house
I think the cat who appears in a couple of pictures is a nice touch.

zombie proof house
Not to be a know-it-all or anything, but I think it could use a moat.

zombie proof house

zombie proof house

zombie proof house
The cat really loves that deck.

zombie proof house

zombie proof house


Monday, October 28, 2013

For My Readers Still In School

scarlett Johansson studying
Well, we didn't say WHAT you should be studying.
Just a little public service announcement for our friends in school from Black Widow. You should be studying.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Announcement courtesy of Black Widow.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata

Ludwig van Beethoven portrait
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig was the man.

The Piano Sonata No. 14 in C♯ minor "Quasi una fantasia", op. 27, No. 2, by Ludwig van Beethoven

The Sonata has three movements:

1 mvt: Adagio sostenuto.
2 mvt: Allegretto (click to go at 6:00 min).
3 mvt: Presto agitato (click to go at 8:05 min).

This version of Beethoven's famous Sonata No. 14 is crisp and precise. It's overwhelming characteristic is its technical precision. Many prefer more emotional renditions, as, in fact, do I. This, however, is likely close to how the piece was intended and played during Beethoven's era, when it (rightly) was extremely popular.

As for the sonata itself as a work of art, you don't get much better. It is one of the most solemn and foreboding pieces of piano music, though with an incongruous liveliness that grows as the piece progresses. If asked to use one word to characterize the tone, it would be "stern." The soaring melody contrasts perfectly with the well-known bass line. The Sonata is such a complete work of art that you completely forget that it is one man on one piano, without the horns or brass or string instruments that lesser artists throw in to fill out their pieces.

Among my many vices is classical music. That wasn't always the case. When I was in my teens, I was drawn to The Beatles and soft rock of the '70s and slightly edgier stuff from the '80s. As I move through life, though, classical is where it's at. It is awesome as background when writing or doing coding online.

I find it increasingly difficult to listen to pop music for long periods of time. Now and then pop is fine, especially classic rock or pop from the '90s and earlier. For anything but short bursts, though, classical is much more enjoyable. As you get more and more into classical, in fact, you realize that much "original" pop music, including television and movie themes, comes straight from classical pieces, sometimes with little attempt to disguise that fact.

I don't expect most people to "get" this post, but it's what I like, so it is here. If you ever get around to classical, the Moonlight Sonata is a good place to start.

Ludwig van Beethoven portrait


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pyramids of Egypt

Egyptian pyramid

The Great Pyramid of Egypt.

The Only Remaining Original Wonders

Egyptian pyramid

I always have been fascinated by the pyramids of Egypt. I have visited some in the Yucatan in Mexico, but still need to get to those in Egypt. The most famous Egyptian pyramids are those found at Giza, of course, on the outskirts of Cairo. Several of the Giza pyramids are counted among the largest structures ever built, by both volume and height. The Pyramid of Khufu at Giza is the largest Egyptian pyramid. It is the only one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still in existence, the others being either completely gone or with only scattered traces remaining. The Ancient Romans and Greeks came along and saw the pyramids much as we do, because, even from their distant perspective, the Pyramids had been constructed in distant antiquity as well. Napoleon studied the pyramids during his invasion of Egypt in 1798. The British staged a last-ditch defense of the country during World War II that was successful and marked the turning point of the war against Hitler. Conquerors always seem to have a thing about invading Egypt even though it no longer has the economic influence that it did in ancient times, when it was used by Rome as its granary, supplying the "bread" part in the famous saying "bread and circuses."

Egyptian pyramid

There are almost as many theories about the pyramids as there are people studying them. The shape of Egyptian pyramids is thought by some to represent the primordial mound from which the Egyptians believed the earth was created. The shape of a pyramid is thought to be representative of the descending rays of the sun. Their celestial function is given credence by the uncannily accurate measurements of their dimensions, which are equivalent to certain astronomical measurements. Most pyramids were faced with polished, highly reflective white limestone, in order to give them a brilliant appearance when viewed from a distance, but they lost that protective coating in the mists of antiquity. Nobody is really sure what the Sphinx is all about.

Egyptian pyramid

The Egyptians were very into mysticism and the afterlife. They believed, for instance, that the dark area of the night sky around which the stars appear to revolve was the physical gateway into the heavens. The pyramids look solid enough on the outside, but they have many shafts and chambers within them. One of the narrow shafts that extend from the main burial chamber through the entire body of the Great Pyramid points directly towards the center of the central, dark area of the night sky. This suggests the pyramid may have been designed to serve as a means to magically launch the deceased pharaoh's soul directly into the abode of the gods, though that is only a guess as to this apparent celestial pointing.

Egyptian pyramid

Egypt was far from the only place to engage in pyramid building, though it is the most famous. Long after the end of Egypt's own pyramid-building period, a burst of pyramid-building occurred in what is present-day Sudan, directly south of Egypt along the confluence of the Nile River. This was after much of Egypt came under the rule of the Kings of Napata. While Napatan rule was brief and ceased in 661 BC, the Egyptian influence made an indelible impression, much as, say, the European influence had an effect on the United States. During the later Sudanese Kingdom of Meroe (approximately in the period between 300 BC–300 AD), this pyramid frenzy flowered into a full-blown pyramid-building revival, which saw more than two hundred indigenous, but Egyptian-inspired royal pyramid-tombs constructed in the vicinity of the kingdom's capital cities. There also are pyramids in Mexico and nearby countries, and (subject to much debate) perhaps in Serbia in Europe. The function of the original Egyptian pyramids at Giza remains open to debate.

Egyptian pyramid

The pyramids of Giza are fascinating for many reasons, including their shape, size, orientation, notoriety, age, and mystery. They stand at the intersection of life and death, night and day, water and desert, civilization and sterility. The mere fact that they have survived as long as they have, and show no signs of ever going away, imbues them with an aura of immortality possessed by no other man-made features on the face of the earth.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Female Names Through the Years

The Herd Instinct in Action

This graphic shows the most popular names for baby girls, state-by-state, for the years 1960-2012.

I'm not picking on women or mothers or anything like that. I'm sure the same trends exist for baby boys, too. I think "John" was the most popular name for, like, fifty years straight or something like that.

However, this is a fascinating graphic showing the true herd instinct in action. What could possibly be more important as a life choice than naming your child? Not too many things. So, we see that parents are incredibly risk-averse when choosing their daughters' names, to the point where they will go with whatever is popular at the moment so as not to make the "wrong" choice. That's better, though than going crazy with it and naming your twins "Run" and "Rerun" (an actual case during the 1970s) or "Moon Unit" or "Heinrich Himmler" or whatever. Names like that say a lot more about you than your offspring, and it's not about you!

Anyway, it's fascinating to watch names crop up in some isolated states, then spread like a virus to surrounding states, take over completely by stamping out the hold-outs, and then face a new challenger which they either beat back or fall to.

"Jennifer" belongs in the name Hall of Fame. It just took over in 1970 out of nowhere (what happened then?) and ran with it straight through to the 1980s. It even beat back a few challenges, but then completely succumbed in 1985 like it was yesterday's newspaper. So, why was it so wonderful in, say, 1982 but so completely horrible in 1987? Once a name goes out of fashion, no matter how popular, that's it! Game over, man, game over!

Jennifer, incidentally, gained a bad rap because, at a certain point in time, it became kind of cliché that men who were cheating on their wives were doing so with a younger "Jennifer." We all know that mothers are the ones who usually choose their daughters' names, and if they associate bad feelings with a particular name, they would be highly unlikely to name their daughter that. I doubt that is why Jennifer's reign finally ended, the timing isn't quite right and all, but still... And, why did Jennifer handoff to Jessica? I mean, seriously, what is better about Jessica than Jennifer? And Ashley? Where did that come from?

One thing to ponder is that an awful lot of people out there who think exactly the same way. It's either group-think, or they read the same publications and arrive at the same conclusions by doing so, or there is an unofficial "suggested name" at hospitals. Something freaky is going on, that's for sure.

Another thing to think about: is your name one of the "most popular?" How do you feel about that? Do you like being unique? Or are you a proud member of the herd?


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Coincidence? Maybe Not

Just a random strip mall, could be anywhere.
A liquor store, a bankruptcy attorney, and divorce attorney. Coincidence? Well, you tell me. That's an interesting array of signs. And, notice which one is the biggest one. I know, it's so unfair to imply any kind of causation from such a random grouping. Right?


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Statue of Liberty Historical Shots

Statue of Liberty
Unboxing the Statue of Liberty in 1885.

Historical Shots of the Famous Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty was put on exhibit at the Paris World's Fair of 1878. It stayed there for a year before being shipped to New York City.

Located on Liberty Island, New York, the Statue of Liberty was designed by Frédéric Bartholdi (1876-1886). It was intended as a gift to the American people as a symbol of the friendship between France and the United States that was formed during the Revolutionary War against Great Britain.

Statue of Liberty under construction
The Statue of Liberty is shown being cast (colorized).

The torch-bearing arm of the Statue of Liberty was displayed at the Centennial Exposition in 1876 and in New York's Madison Square Park from 1876 to 1882.

Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty's head on exhibit at the Paris World's Fair (1878).

Statue of Liberty
The Arm of Liberty, 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition.

Statue of Liberty
Centennial Exposition in 1876.

Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty under construction in France.

Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty's face before it was installed, in 1886.

Statue Liberty NYC New York City assembly 1895
Starting the assembly of the Statue of Liberty, 1895.

Statue of Liberty France 1885

Statue of Liberty
Between 1876 and 1882, the arm of the Statue of Liberty was in Madison Square Park at 23rd Street. It was used for fund-raising to complete the Statue, which required quite a bit of labor to unbox and assemble. Madison Square at the time was like Central Park is now, the center of city social life. Anyone could pay 50 cents to climb to the torch balcony.

Statue of Liberty copper
Preparing the copper cladding, 1880.
Statue of Liberty construction
1884 construction of the Statue of Liberty.
Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty, flanked by the twin towers of the World Trade Center, Dec. 5, 1983. Photo by Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Molokai, Hawaii

Molokai Hawaii

This is a shot of Molokai, Hawaii, most likely taken from a helicopter. It's not really the scenery itself that fascinates me about this shot, but the way the water and land combine and swirl to give this the ethereal feel of Impressionistic paintings. Good processing.

Scenes like this are great to pick you up during the dreary seasons. This shot reminds me of the television series "Magnum, P.I." It makes me want to find my snorkeling gear and get to it!


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

What is the Goal of Life?

John Lennon happiness
John Lennon remembers his childhood.
John Lennon explains the meaning of life. He always went his own way. The above quote is poignant because Lennon lost his mother soon after in a random traffic accident. That no doubt reinforced his decision to stick with that response, which made him a rebel, which made him ... a Beatle.

It is difficult to dispute that wanting to be "happy" when you grow up is a pretty good answer. Of course, is also is the kind of smart-alecky response that will get you a failing grade or detention.

I'm a big Lennon fan, as big as any, but let's not get too carried away with the Great Man's wisdom. He also said that happiness was a warm gun. ;)


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Enjoy Your Weekend!

Always Follow Captain's Orders!

Enjoy your weekend Captain Kirk Star Trek

Hope you have a terrific weekend. Captain's Orders!


Friday, October 4, 2013

IF ONLY.....

If the government shuts down, why do we owe taxes?
Ah, some things we can all agree on, if only they were so...